“God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: “Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me— … Continue ...

 

Connections: Simple Church Success - 5 new articles

Quietness is key. Old thinking says, Nothing doing!” God waits! Patiently.

“God, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: “Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me— The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.

You’ve said, ‘Nothing doing! We’ll rush off on horseback!’ You’ll rush off, all right! Just not far enough! You’ve said, ‘We’ll ride off on fast horses!’ Do you think your pursuers ride old nags? Think again: A thousand of you will scatter before one attacker. Before a mere five you’ll all run off. There’ll be nothing left of you— a flagpole on a hill with no flag, a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off.”

But God’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right—everything.

Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer.

Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.”

You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good riddance!”” (Isaiah 30:15–22, The Message)

Again: Quietness is key. Old thinking says, Nothing doing!” God waits! Patiently.

            
 
 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Like the rest of us, the Lord likes a little appreciation and a simple thank you will do.

Sadly, it possible to bypass the whole god-thing even when we know better. The Bible says,  “They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were total nonsense, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness.” (Romans 1:21, GW)

Appreciation and thanksgiving keeps our heads straight and our hearts tender.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Giv’m heaven,
John

            
 
 

The Throne of Grace! Come on up for the fun of It!

The Throne of Grace

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
(Hebrews 4:16, ESV)

What a beautiful home!
(Psalm 84–adapted with my own comments from The Message Bible)

“What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!

I’ve always longed to live in a place like this, even though I didn’t recognize it until recently. As a grammar school age child (and beyond), I think would have loved this Throne of Grace (TOG) filled home with my earthly family together: Dad, Mom, and my two brothers sitting around the living room, sharing, laughing, reading (Scripture and other things) and praying (happily, spontaneously and casually like we do here at the TOG).

I’ve always (consciously, in the last few years) dreamed of a room in your house
where I could hangout and listen and sing for joy to God-alive!

Birds find nooks and crannies in your house, sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young, singing their songs in the place where we worship. God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God! How blessed they are to live and sing there!

Lord, your Throne of Grace is a fun-filled aviary!

Yesterday I saw that it opened from its grand pavilion and spilled into the out-of-doors, but I didn’t know it was a gathering place for sweet birds living and nesting there up in the nooks and crannies of the ceiling and roof. What fun! How free! And the weather is so perfect even when there are storms around us we are safe with you at the Throne of Grace.

The Throne of Grace!
What a great place!
Sin is erased!
We gain face
as we sit face-to-face with you,
seeing your face shining upon us and
enjoying your Jesus-peace within us.

He is our peace.
He has finished the journey.
He looks with us with confidence at the road ahead of us.
Holy Spirit will always go with us making the invisible visible and faith substantial—
clearly evident in its power to give us love, power and a sound mind!

And how blessed all those in whom you live, whose lives become roads you travel.
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!

And as we live out our earthly journey in the dusty day-to-day,
we travel these Jesus-traveled roads that curve up the mountain, and at the last turn—
Zion! God in full view!

God-of-the-Angel-Armies, listen: O God of Jacob, open your ears—I’m praying!
Look at our shields, glistening in the sun, our faces, shining with your gracious anointing.
One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.

I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God
than be honored as a guest in a God-less palace.
All sunshine and sovereign is God, generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
It’s smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies.”

(Psalm 84, The Message)

Have a blessed day!

John Parker
from my desk and The TOG–with the birds!

            
 
 

Party on, Believer-Dude. Living La Vida Cristo!

Last night I had a dream about being at a fun party! I write the dreams I remember down, along with my post-dream observations. Then I listen to the Lord for the interpretation.

My post-dream observations were about the fun and the people and about my concern that I walk with the Lord at such parties–including all people gatherings–with happy sobriety, vigilance and discernment.

They (The Lord: Papa, Lord Jesus, and Rua (*Ruach Kadesh, Holy Wind,Holy Spirit) ) reassured me, saying,

We are your party!

Me: Thank you for our blessed, most holy party! Help me discern and accept no substitutes!

Them: We love our party with you! We enjoy that you see and hear and know. It is fun when one of our kids (note: that’s all of us!) walks in us and receives mercy for all the non-walking and resists the non-walking.

And Rua* said:

“I love the party of physical creation and the party of your “in me” holy, human-Spirit–inspired creativity. I AM helping you (speaking now to all believers) as a believer/learner/servant/minister to be more engaging without being compromised by the evil around you. You are a light into dark, crooked, and perverse places.

“That’s where Jesus was assigned and walked—with the ones called “sinners.” Get over their lifestyle and focus on their spirit eyes, hearts, and souls–like Jesus did—like Paul did.

“Remember that he wrote of our work through him, by quoting our calling to him:

“‘ ‘I’m sending you off to open the eyes of the outsiders so they can see the difference between dark and light, and choose light, see the difference between Satan and God, and choose God. I’m sending you off to present my offer of sins forgiven, and a place in the family, inviting them into the company of those who begin real living by believing in me.’” (Acts 26:17–18, The Message)

Me: Party on, believer-dude!

            
 
 

Pathos Power – Sorrow: a Jesus Soft Skill – (Power of God Series 7 of 7)

The power of sorrow!

Are you sad today?  That’s cause for happiness!

Sorrow is the soft skill! Jesus was so good at sorrow that he was given the nickname “Man of Sorrows,” and described as, “acquainted with grief!” (Isaiah 53)

Sorrow is not popular in our society. We believe we are on this planet to pursue happiness. Feeling sorrow sets up disappointment for some who think that happiness means the absence of grief.

But the most joyous people are often the ones who have been deeply acquainted with grief and sorrow and have learned to walk through it. My friend, the late Jack Petitt of Chowchilla, used to say, “When you’re going through hell don’t stop to take pictures.”

In other words, we can experience sorrow as it comes. We don’t have to make a shrine out of it, but we can let it be a helpful part of nurturing compassion within us.

Not many people who would opt to have a sad day. Most of us want to have a happy, fulfilling day. And there’s nothing wrong with that—unless it causes us to get angry and upset about emotions like sorrow, confusion, unhappiness or other down-side emotions and events.

The Bible never shames anyone for having sorrow. In fact, we are told to have compassion and learn to weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)

Just today, my friend told me that his wife started crying. When he asked her about it, she responded, “I’m sad because I don’t want us to struggle with each other anymore.”

Instead of getting defensive, the husband slowed down and asked her it she’d like to talk about it. She did talk, and he listened.

In the end, without him doing anything more, or trying to fix things, she stopped, smiled, and said, “Thank you for listening. I feel better now.” The husband is learning.

The Bible says, If anyone is happy let them sing praises. If anyone is sad let them pray. (James 5:13) God is not angry when we are happy, and God is not angry when we are sad. He likes being with us either way.

We were told as kids: “Quit feeling sorry for yourself.” The message we heard on a deeper level was that sorrow is a bad, annoying, and, practically, sinful. As a result, many adults continue their “wrong” belief, and end up getting mad at themselves, and others, about sorrow.

Workaholics avoid sorrow by staying busy.  Drug addicts avoid sorrow by staying medicated. Why not simple let God like and love us in times of sorrow?  He is a ‘very present help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1).

Paul, Jesus’ apostle, writes, “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted…What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!” (2 Corinthians 7:9–11, NKJV)

Are you sad? The Bible says that’s okay. In fact it may help you become a happier person in the long haul.

Giv’m Heaven! – John

John Parker, is a coaching pastor in the Simple Church of Chowchilla circle, which meets at 10 a.m., Sundays, Carty Center, 609 W. Robertson Boulevard. For information call: (209) 564-7201.

            
 
 
 
   
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