THE CULTURE OF BLESSING

Written by Les Dahl on June 29th, 2015. Posted in Peace, Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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document.write(" sans-serif; font-size: 16px;">Among Christians, Abraham is known for his unwavering faith. In Jewish tradition, however, Abraham is known for his culture of blessing. What is a culture of blessing and is it related to faith?

God called Abraham to leave country, home and family to follow where He would lead on a “need-to-know-basis”. Abraham took God at His word, trusted Him explicitly and did what God asked no matter what the cost. His was a faith of action, rooted in personal relationship.

Wherever Abraham went, he graciously welcomed strangers as if entertaining angels. He knew what it was to be a pilgrim and stranger in a foreign land. He also knew friendship with El Shaddai—the God who blesses me and makes me fruitful and multiplies my descendants after me. Out of Abraham's faith and friendship with God emerged a culture of blessing.

God entrenched blessing, friendship and faith in an eternal covenant with Abraham. On His part, God committed to “bless and multiply” Abraham; in return, Abraham embraced the mandate to be a blessing. Everywhere he went, Abraham received unprecedented favor, not because he was perfect—he blundered more than once—but because of God's commitment to the their covenant. Empowered by the covenant, Abraham bestowed hospitality, generosity and respect to all he encountered.

Through Jesus, we are adopted into Abraham's family of faith and become eligible heirs of the same covenant. As with Abraham, God commits to bless us and our family. Thus empowered, we are mandated to cultivate a culture of blessing. Sadly, many are stuck in a WIIFM mentality—“What's In It For Me!” We mistakenly think the covenant is a “Membership Certificate” to the “Bless Me Club”. This was not Abraham's mindset.

To bless is to pronounce words or initiate actions that invoke divine favor upon someone or something. With words and deeds of blessing, God mentored Abraham to bless. It became second nature to him, a characteristic habit.

How can the culture of blessing be instilled in us?

  1. Like Abraham, we surrender to a journey of faith and friendship with God.

Total surrender released Abraham to discover who he was created to be. It involved risk, the greatest being “What if...?” But it also allowed Abraham to discover happiness and greatness. Abraham called Him El Shaddai—the God who blesses and prospers me and my family.

Our journey into a culture of blessing also involves total surrender and risk, but if we are no longer behind bars, life can be an adventure. In the company of Abraham's Friend, we too discover happiness, significance and destiny.

  1. Like Abraham, we intentionally hone our senses to be aware of God's favor.

Abraham found El Shaddai true to His promise. Abraham's moments of weakness never altered God's blessing. Such faithfulness transformed Abraham. He became aware of divine favor everywhere and in everything. Gratitude, blessing and worship flowed spontaneously from Abraham's heart.

As we intentionally set our radar to scan the horizon for divine favor, our eyes suddenly open to the goodness of God. We are amazed by the meteor rain of blessing penetrating the negative atmosphere surrounding us. It's as if the whole universe is programmed to work in our favor. We find, like Abraham, a spontaneous response of gratitude, blessing and worship well up in our heart.

  1. Like Abraham, look for and create opportunity to the bless others with words of empowerment and acts of generosity.

In Jamaica, cashiers and sales clerks wear name badges, I make a point of addressing, thanking and complimenting by name each person who serves me. I do so deliberately with intention of blessing them.

Another interesting phenomenon of Jamaica are windshield washers. At busy intersections in Kingston and Montego Bay, young men stand armed with squeegee and pepsi bootle full of soapy water, ready to wash your windshield as the light turns red. Often these young men are “street kids” and despised by motorists. Few allow these “urchins” to touch their vehicles. If I must pass through one of these intersections, I make sure I have an appropriate “tip” to leave the fellow who cleans my window. Interestingly, every young man responds with “Respect, Dads!” or “Manners!” which is street lingo for "Thanks!”

A teller who served me in the bank looked very athletic. As I mentioned this to him, his face lit up. “Actually, I was on the track team at my high school. My dream was to represent Jamaica at the Olympics, but I had to hang up my spikes and get a job to help support my family.” A passion, a dream unfulfilled.

Have you thought of becoming a high school track coach, training young athletes like yourself to fulfill their dream?” I asked. Those few empowering words brought a dying passion to life with possibility.

Like Abraham, I am on a journey of faith and friendship with El Shaddai. Empowered by His covenant with Abraham, I am determined to envelop myself in a culture of blessing.

Shalom!

 

Children – Our Legacy

Written by Les Dahl on April 10th, 2015. Posted in Family, Sage's Scroll, Uncategorized

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document.write(" geneva; font-size: 14px;">Shalom!

As my wife Miriam and I contemplated having children, we grappled to formulate our strategy for raising them. In my experience as a professional educator, I saw how fragile and easily broken children are. Unfortunately, children come with neither an owner's guide or an operator's handbook!

Several core beliefs emerged to guide us.

Foundational is the unshakeable belief that children are a gift. The Almighty made no mistake when He gave us our four children, or the two grandchildren now living with us. Each is an invaluable treasure, a gift from Heaven, specially chosen by the Almighty and perfectly suited for us, the parents (grandparents) to whom they are given! Each is a special delight and blessing; each draws out the best and the worst in us.

More than a gift, children are our inheritance bequeathed to us by our

Father that we in turn prepare for our grandchildren. Our thinking must expand beyond 'us-four-and-no-more' to encompass grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. Stories our children tell of their experiences growing up become treasured memories passed down through several generations. Family is 'multi-generational'.

Family, not material possessions, is true wealth.

Jesus told a parable about a master who entrusted his wealth to his three servants--five 'talents' to one, two to another, and one to the third. A prosperous man and astute in business, his was not a haphazard distribution--he knew exactly what each servant was capable of. The amount assigned to each was just beyond his comfort level but within reach of his potential. The assignment deliberately tested each servant's mettle.

In like manner, the Almighty assigns our children. Knowing everything about us, and about our children, and being the astute Master that He is, the Almighty believes we are precisely the mentors our children need for unique positions of influence, power and blessing that will enhance His business and His brand (the Kingdom of God displayed in righteousness, peace and joy).

We can, like the prodigal, squander our inheritance by neglect or abuse. On the other hand, we can take up the challenge like the two faithful servants in Jesus' parable. Upon receiving their allotted 'talents', they invested time, energy and acumen developing what was given them. They presented their master 100% return on his endowment.

As we invest time, energy and wisdom gained through experience, our children surpass our accomplishment in life. Our Master is well-pleased with the return on His investment. As in the parable, great reward is meted to us for our faithfulness.

Blessings...

The Sage

Adapted from HOME-SCHOOL: WHY BOTHER? (available on Amazon and Kindle)

Parables: (Matthew 25:15-30) (Luke 15:11-24)

THE SEED-BED OF FAITH

Written by Les Dahl on March 29th, 2015. Posted in Sage's Scroll

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Gardeners use a seed-bed to germinate seeds. A seed-bed creates conditions that are ‘most conducive to a favorable outcome’, namely, bringing the seed into existence and healthy development. What would you consider is the seed-bed used by Father, the Master Gardener, to sprout seeds of faith?

Surprisingly, the opposite of faith is not doubt or even unbelief. These are merely symptoms of the pathogen that infects and ultimately destroys faith.

Sometime between 3 and 6 a.m. (the fourth watch), utterly exhausted after what seemed like endless hours battling heavy seas and contrary winds, the disciples encountered a ghost. As if the forces of nature hadn't amplified their anxiety beyond the level of endurable stress, unknown spiritual forces from the realm of the unseen now confronted them in the form of an apparition moving toward them! They were “terrified and screamed out in fear”.

Instantly. Jesus injected a word of faith into a situation fast spinning out of control. “Take courage! I AM, the Almighty One, is present! Stop being afraid!”

Upon hearing the incredible claim that what they saw was not a ghost but was in fact Jesus, Peter blurted out, “Prove it's really You, Lord, by demonstrating the power of Your word over these violent winds and waves that threaten our very lives: command ME to come to You.”

Jesus' reply was simple, calm but commanding, “Come.”

With bravado characteristic of his impetuous nature, Peter stepped out of the boat, onto the water and walked to Jesus. By faith, albeit impulsive, Peter transcended the physical world and walked in the unseen world that is defined and sustained by the Word of His power.

“But when Peter perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened and as he began to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me from death!'” Instantly, Jesus reached out, caught Peter by the hand and steadied him.

“Why did you doubt?” Jesus asked. “You are indeed a man of little faith, but do you not see that what little faith you have was sufficient to activate the power to walk on water? Why did you give in to fear, which negated your faith, paralyzed you with doubt, leaving you sinking to your death?”

The opposite of faith is fear, which breeds doubt and unbelief. Fear strangles faith, and leaves a caustic residue of doubt and unbelief. Left unchecked, fear, doubt and unbelief will cause us to sink like Peter to our death.

What is the antidote for fear?

“There is no fear in love, dread does not exist; but full-grown, complete, perfect love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror.” (1 John 4: 18 AMP) When fear is removed, when love is full-grown, perfect and complete, faith explodes.

Our Father's perfect love is the seed-bed of the seedlings of faith.

Shalom!

Image courtesy of amenic181 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Parable

Written by Les Dahl on January 20th, 2015. Posted in Sage's Scroll

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document.write(" geneva, sans-serif;">A PARABLE

A prosperous merchant employed a servant to manage the household duties. The young maiden took great joy in performing her tasks. Applying full attention, skill and creativity, she lifted each job out of the mundane into the realm of the uncommon, stamped with the mark of excellence. Thus, despite her lowly position of servitude, the maiden evoked an aura of dignity by her cheerful demeanor and authentic manner.

It happened one day while her master was away on business, that thieves broke into the house to plunder. Though warned by the intruders to stand clear as they went about looting, the young maiden sprang upon them like a wild cat, scratching and clawing. The burglars drew back stunned for a brief moment by the shrieking menace.

Then uncontrollable rage erupted from the dark recesses of their evil hearts. A frenzy of meaty fists beat the maiden to the floor. Mad with fury, the beasts then kicked mercilessly at her limp body. She lay at the threshold of death before they left off to their plundering again.

On his return several days later, the merchant was distraught by the incident. As he arose in the morning, he was amazed to find his breakfast prepared and his table set as usual. Even greater was his surprise, and his concern, as he turned to see the maiden coming from the kitchen, with carefully measured steps, bringing his meal.

“Maiden, what are you thinking! You were a breath away from death! The physician ordered rest! What are you doing on your feet!” the master demanded.

“Forgive me, master, but if serving is my gift and my call, I am as good as dead if I do not serve,” the maiden replied humbly.

Shalom!

Image courtesy www.diegovelazquez.org

A Seed of Faith

Written by Les Dahl on January 18th, 2015. Posted in Sage's Scroll, Uncategorized

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document.write(" geneva; font-size: 16px;">Jesus tells the very well-known parable of the Sower who went out to sow seed. He explains that He is the sower and the Word (i.e eternal truth in the Bible) is the seed. Faith begins as a seed.

As we hear or read a verse of Scripture, the eternal truth embedded in the verse penetrates our mind. Often our initial response is ,“Can this be true?” This response, sincere and authentic, is usually intuitive, i.e. from our sub-conscious mind which is far more easily penetrated by Holy Spirit.

Too many times, as our conscious mind (thoroughly conditioned to conform to the thinking of world systems) kicks in, our second response is, “That can't be true!” followed all to soon by “I don't believe that!” A seed of faith is destroyed, a seed that could have grown into ever-increasing freedom (“the truth will set you free”) and fruitfulness (“and you shall be as a well-watered garden”).

Faith is a gift of grace, not a stroke of genius or creative imagination. It is a sovereign act of Holy Spirit implanting eternal truth in our minds (hearts, if you prefer). It is a thought or insight that we would not have conceived because it comes from the mind of the Almighty, whose thoughts are on an infinitely higher plane that ours. We can embrace the revelation and nurture it as we would a seed in our garden, or we can dismiss it—the choice is ours.

If we choose to embrace the insight of eternal truth, we are well advised to write down the verse (or phrase) which sparked the insight and the inspired thought (the Old Testament prophet says, “write the vision”). I have lost too many insights that were faith-builders simply because I didn't record them. Later, as I searched the thousands of thoughts that passed through my mind during the day, I could not recall the revelation.

Secondly, we should ask Holy Spirit to teach us, to show us how the particular truth applies to us—He is, after all, the One Jesus sent to teach us everything we need to live life with authentic godliness. Under the mentorship of Holy Spirit our understanding expands, and as we diligently activate the new revelation in our day-to-day situations, our trust in God and our confidence in His Word grows. A seed of faith takes root.

In His discussion about our tendency to worry about daily provisions, Jesus says, “Make the Kingdom of God your priority and all your needs will be provided.” We can read that verse 100 times without it making any sense—it's too simplistic and too far-fetched! But when Holy Spirit reveals the eternal truth embedded in that statement and we choose to embrace it with the gift of faith that accompanies the insight, our thinking shifts. As we explore the Kingdom of God under Holy Spirit's tutelage, we begin to experience changes in our circumstances and our trust in God and our confidence in His Word grows. Faith, which begins as a seed, is growing within us.

Shalom!

Image courtesy of amenic181 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My son, My daughter, (5)

Written by Les Dahl on December 15th, 2014. Posted in Peace, Sage's Scroll

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OUT OF CHAOS

 

My son, My daughter,

In the beginning, I looked and all I could see was a vast empty space of nothingness. The earth was without form and void—an utterly shapeless, barren mass—and a pall of darkness hung like a death-shroud over the primordial waters.

I am a creator, The Creator; it is not within My nature to endure the absence of Light and Life. So I resolved to change the depressive gloom confronting Me.

I did not struggle to overpower the darkness with the power of My will, nor did I curse the gloom to negate it. I simply released the sound of My Voice and spoke, “Let there be light!” The power of My Word shook the circumstances before Me causing a shift to the very foundations.

And there was light...

No shape...no form...no sun, moon or stars...no land, seas, plants or animals...only light...nothing more. A simple, small step forward toward the dream in My heart, but a profound beginning of the creative process!

I took no notice of what wasn't there. I reveled in the Light which appeared as I uttered the Word into the dismal atmosphere. “It is good!” I declared as I watched Light roll back the darkness that smothered the glory of the still to be created Universe.

Step by step and day by day, the sound of My Voice gathered strength and momentum. The creative power of the Word spoken from My mouth sent ever-expanding horizons rippling across the Universe, filling Outer Space and Earth Space with Sound and Form and Life. My heart swelled as I watched the Movement and heard the Music and felt the Love. “It is good!” I declared as I basked in the beauty and joy of My unfolding dream.

Never once did I say the result was perfect—it didn't have to be perfect to be good. But I never stopped at good when better lay just ahead and the best was yet to come. Each phase of the creative process became a stepping stone for the greater glory of the next. And the process never ends, nor the exhilarating joy.

The crowning glory of My work was to create YOU, My son, My daughter, in My image and My likeness. Like Me, YOU are a creator. YOU thrive on looking chaos in the face, releasing the sound of YOUR voice into the gloom of your circumstances, and watching the power of YOUR word roll back the darkness to make room for Life and Love and Music and Movement.

Shift your attention from the hopelessness of your circumstances; seed the Word. Keep declaring good as you creatively pursue the better that lies inherent in your next step, your next day, knowing your best is just ahead. I AM with you.

 

Your loving Father,

Yahweh

(Genesis 1 paraphrased)

Image courtesy of prozac1 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net