BLUEPRINT FOR SHALOM (Peace, Health and Prosperity)

Written by Les Dahl on November 30th, 2015. Posted in Health, Peace, Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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document.write(" geneva, sans-serif; font-size: 16px;">Life is not without struggle and we are easily burdened with its pressures. Often we have more than enough on our plate on a daily basis and we are weary from the load we carry. It is precisely to us in our battle-worn condition that Yeshua (Jesus) extends the invitation:

“Come to me, all of you who are struggling and burdened, and I will give you rest (shalom). Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Shalom—peace, health and prosperity—is a gift of God's grace. Although we have a part to play in procuring shalom, it is not the product of our will-power nor of our self-help. It is an endowment from our Father in heaven. However, conditions apply and shalom is not obtained in our daily experience until these conditions are met.

Condition #1: “Come to Me...”

We must want shalom.

That is self-evident, you say. Who wouldn't wish for peace, health and prosperity? I am surprised, however, how many people are quite happy in their misery, sickness and lack (poverty). You very likely know some of these people—probably have to put up with them at work. They complain a lot and prey on your sympathy. No matter what you say or do, they really have no intention to change. They love the attention and pity drawn to them by their doleful condition and whining.

Condition #2: “Learn from Me...”

We must be willing to learn.

Creating shalom is a process that involves learning and comes with a learning curve. It takes time, study and practice to develop of shalom. We apply ourselves to His Word (the Bible). We attune ourselves to the lessons (parables) embedded in Nature. Fueled by our quest to learn, we discover insights otherwise hidden. We pay attention to people around us, particularly our elders, and garner knowledge. We hearken as experience teaches us discretion and wisdom.

If we are willing to learn, our Father rewards us with insights and promises relevant to the shalom (peace, health and prosperity) we need to live well. As a loving, caring father mentors his son and daughter, teaching them the art of living well, our Father in heaven disciples and instructs us.

Condition #3: “Take my yoke...”

We must be willing to change.

One of the great obstacles in our pursuit of shalom is the comfortable and familiar. We just don't like change. Change requires giving up old habits, thoughts, beliefs. Change demands letting go of hurts, bitterness, anger. Change calls for surrender of our will and way to His. That's not easy.

Fully aware of our struggle, our Father reassures us with the words, “I am gentle and humble in heart.” Have you ever thought of God as humble? But that's exactly what our Father is like—rock solid and firm (tough love) but gentle and humble with a big heart of love for us.

So if you accept the conditions which apply, here is a blueprint for shalom that I have discovered in my quest. (In subsequent articles, I will elaborate on each concept. Your feedback is greatly valued.)

THE BLUEPRINT for SHALOM

1. Set your compass
Prepare for the day by properly aligning yourself.

2. Chart your course
Determine your path from here to there.

3. Create your aura
Create the eye of the storm and stay in it.

4. Activate universal laws
Cultivate good seed in good soil and give generously.

5. Engage in active personal development
Make necessary changes to achieve clarity and growth.

6. Expand your power source
Cultivate spiritual growth.

7. Stay in rhythm
Sing your melody, play your instrument in symphony of the universe.

 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of His Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises. (Romans 15:13)

 

Blessings...

 

Image courtesy of lkunl / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

5 LIFE-TRANSFORMING AFFIRMATIONS ABOUT GOD

Written by Les Dahl on November 24th, 2015. Posted in Health, Peace, Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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document.write(" geneva, sans-serif; font-size: 16px;">Words have power to create and build or to tear down and destroy. Words have the characteristics of seeds. You reap what you sow.

The words we speak determine our atmosphere and our experience. They affect how we respond to circumstances. They regulate the power we have to deal with adversity.

The soil in which our words germinate is our heart. Jesus said that our thoughts and actions proceed from our heart. Our internal conversation (i.e. the words we sow) shapes our thought paradigms, our beliefs (which either limit or liberate us) and our habits (patterns of action).

As with seeds, our words are watered, nourished and nurtured. The good words we sow are watered by positive attitudes and body language (a smile, good posture, a firm handshake). They are nourished by acts of kindness and promises from God's Word. They are nurtured by hard work and persistence.

Seeds multiply as they reproduce. The mindset of authentic faith anticipates prosperity, i.e. success, increase and multiplication. Would a farmer seed his field if he did not believe an abundant harvest was the reward of his labor?

Affirmations are statements that declare our agreement with the concepts expressed. They are declared into the atmosphere to serve notice to heaven and earth of our expected outcome (harvest). As they are released, our affirmations become active to accomplish their expressed purpose.

The following affirmations about God serve to clarify. If we hope to find shalom, it is important that our thoughts and ideas about God are accurate and firmly rooted. The goal is to live and move and have our being in Him. But true relationship is two-sided. Thus, God's Spirit is present so He can live and move and have His being in us. The result of this synergy is shalom.

Consider...

1. God is a person.

He is not an idea, a force, a theology nor a religion. As a person, God's primary objective is to enjoy personal relationship with each of us. As He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden, God invites us to walk with Him, enjoying conversation and communion in His Presence.

As He nurtured His relationship with Abraham, God invites us into friendship that grows deeper and stronger as thoughts, feelings and experiences are shared mutually.

Affirmation #1 — God, I acknowledge You as a person. I declare that my relationship with You is characterized by mutual friendship. I welcome Your Presence and listen for Your still, small voice of shalom.

 

2. God is our Father.

As we journey with God, we discover endless nuances of friendship and communion. But the essence of His relationship with us is the love and care of a Father.

The disciples once approached Jesus. “Master, we recognize you have special communication with Almighty God. Teach us how to obtain that kind of access to the power of heaven. Teach us to pray.”

Begin like this,” Jesus answered, “Our Father...”

He then explained, “Everything else in heaven and on earth flows out of that relationship.”

Many of us face a wall of resistance associated with the word “Father”. Our experience with our earthly father was less than perfect. For too many, the experience was rife with abuse and trauma. The wall protects us from being hurt again—by anyone.

Resentment, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness and even hatred seethe within. There is no room in our hearts to think of, let alone feel, the loving, caring embrace of “our Father in heaven.” Deliverance must come; healing must follow.

Affirmation #2 — God, I embrace You as my loving, caring Father. I release all my feelings of resentment, bitterness, anger, unforgiveness and hatred in me because of what my father did to me. I release all my feelings of disappointment and hurt because my father was not there for me when I needed him. I allow Your empathy and compassion to replace those destructive emotions with feelings of safety, security, love and shalom.

 

3. God adopts me into His family, and loves me dearly.

As the Creator contemplated the Universe, He gave attention to our place in His family. This may be difficult to fathom, but it is a fact highlighted in the Scriptures. It strikes at our basic need to belong, to be loved and to matter. It speaks to the feelings of alienation, loneliness and despair.

None of us is an accident and without purpose—your life matters!

None of us is an inconsequential cog in the impersonal machinery of the Universe—you are important!

All of us have Someone who loves us and thinks the world of us—you are loved!

Affirmation #3 — God, I embrace my adoption into Your family. I am no longer an orphan without a family and without a home. I release all my feelings of alienation, loneliness and despair. I declare that I am blessed and highly favored because You love me, I am important to You, my life matters and I belong.

 

4. God takes personal interest in each of us.

Our Father knows us. He knows our likes and dislikes, our strengths and weaknesses, our potential and our limitations, our horizons and our boundaries. He knows and cares!

Jesus asked the crowd, “Why do you worry about food or clothing? Your Father in heaven knows you need these things and is happy to provide them for you.”

Paul continues this thread as he writes:

"Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in every circumstance and situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your specific requests known to God. And the shalom of God—that peace which reassures your heart, that peace which transcends all understanding, that peace which stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus—is yours.”

Affirmation #4 — Father in heaven, I acknowledge Your personal interest in me. You care deeply about what I'm going through and what I need. I thank You for Your many blessings and Your faithfulness to provide all that I need. I embrace Your shalom which dispels all worry and anxiety and reassures my heart and my mind of Your loving care and compassion.

 

5. God has a bright future for you.

When God's people were exiles in Babylon, He gave them a word of hope through the prophet Jeremiah.

"I will come to you in your darkest hour and keep My good promise to you, to bring you through. For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for shalom—peace and well-being and not disaster—to give you a future and a hope. Call on Me, pray, and I will hear your voice and answer you.”

Our journey entails many twists and turns, narrow places and rough patches. But of this we can be sure, our Father is watching over us, leading, guiding and empowering by His Spirit within us—making sure we make it through. He has a personal, vested interest in our success. It is His good promise to us. And He stakes His honor on keeping His promise.

Affirmation #5 — Father, I embrace the hope and the future You have prepared for me. I acknowledge Your vested interest in my success. I put off every negative thought, debilitating emotion, destructive habit and limiting belief that prevents me from being all that You have created me to be. I put on shalom—peace, health and prosperity—like a new garment and I embrace the joy which comes from knowing You. I am free to be who I am in You.

 

As seeds take time to germinate, grow and mature before the harvest is ready, so too, these affirmations require time and diligent care to bring them to full manifestation. As the farmer sows in faith, trusting the Almighty for the harvest, be conscientious to declare each affirmation and be patient as our Father in heaven transforms your life from within.

 

Shalom!

Image courtesy africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 WAYS TO KNOW IF YOUR FAITH IS AUTHENTIC AND MEANINGFUL

Written by Les Dahl on July 14th, 2015. Posted in Health, Peace, Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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document.write(" geneva, sans-serif; font-size: 16px;">How do you define your Christian faith? 

Is it by religious performances such as going to church, putting some money in the offering plate, reading your Bible occasionally (or every day), saying your prayers before going to bed? 

Is it by things you don't do, such as wearing certain fashions and make-up, drinking beer, wine or other alcoholic beverages, attending parties and concerts, engaging in activities deemed “worldly”? 

 

Rules can be helpful and doctrine is important,

but they do not necessarily define

authentic, meaningful faith.

 

My personal faith has come under intense scrutiny. 

With age and experience comes a refined perspective of what really matters in life. KEEP IT SIMPLE...KEEP IT REAL has become a mantra to daily guide me through circumstances and relationships. 

My role model is Abraham, the “friend of God” whose unwavering faith is legendary. So I ask myself, what is the acid test of authentic, meaningful faith?

 

THE ACID TEST OF AUTHENTIC, MEANINGFUL FAITH

 
  1. Am I experiencing a quality of life that is characterized by overflowing joy and abundance?

Jesus said, “I came to give you life to the full, till it overflows with joy and abundance.”

I learned an important lesson from the “old-time country folk” we were privileged to meet in our early years in Jamaica. These were simple rural farmers who had few earthly possessions, but were rich in faith, generous without measure, ever satisfied and grateful, enjoying full and meaningful lives!

 

Abundance is not measured by the amount

of our material possessions,

but by our stewardship of what we have,

whether little or much.

 
  1. Am I experiencing an ever-increasing freedom to be who I was created to be and do what I was created to do?

Jesus also said, “If you live by My Word, you are truly my disciples; you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.”

Freedom comes when we are clear about our identity and purpose. But freedom depends on two conditions. 

First, like Mary sitting at Jesus' feet, we must stop the busy-ness of our life to listen intently to Jesus' instruction. 

Second, like the disciples, we must follow closely as Jesus guides us through the day, listening intently to how He applies eternal truth to the situations we encounter. 

We too readily follow what others say we should be and do. Our ear must be attuned to His voice and our live mentored by Him—He is our liberator!

 

Freedom comes when we are true to ourselves

and engaged in our life's purpose.

 
  1. Am I experiencing transformation from within?

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, “Present all your members and faculties to God. Don't allow yourself to be pressed into the world's superficial mold, but be transformed from the inside out by a complete make-over of your mind—new ideals, new attitudes and new paradigms.”

The journey of authentic faith is a process. 

A new-born baby with all the seeds of identity and purpose inherent at birth must pass through the various stages of growth. Through patient nurturing the seeds blossom and in time bear fruit.

So too, as we surrender ourselves to God, we are birthed into new life of authentic faith. Our identity and purpose, like tiny mustard seeds, must be nurtured. 

Holy Spirit activates the eternal Word in us. As we embrace it, the Word challenges our thinking. Our perspective changes, as do our values and our objectives. 

Gradually, we become who we were created to be, engaged in the assignment we were born to fulfill.

 

Under Jesus' watchful mentorship,

the seeds of greatness within

blossom and bear good fruit.

 

Is overflowing joy and abundance a hallmark of your Christian faith? 

Do you enjoy ever-increasing freedom on your journey of faith? 

Are you noticing transformation of heart and mind as Holy Spirit nurtures identity and purpose in you? 

If so, yours is an authentic and meaningful faith. Not perfect, but nurtured by the Word, mentored by Jesus Himself.

 

If not... 

find a quiet place to sit, like Mary, at Jesus' feet. Ask Him to speak His words of life. 

Listen intently and then follow His instructions diligently. Trust Him with the details of your life. 

Find a trusted fellow sojourner of faith to walk with you.

 

More than anything else,

Jesus wants you to enjoy

authentic, meaningful faith.

 

Shalom!

 

Image courtesy imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

THE TRAGEDY OF THE RICH YOUNG RULER

Written by Les Dahl on July 6th, 2015. Posted in Peace, Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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document.write(" sans-serif;">His question was sincere and to the point, “How do I access the eternal realities of life?” Jesus' answer shook him to the core. “Sell everything. Give the money to the poor. Come follow Me.” The young man counted the cost, turned and walked away sorrowful. Therein lies the tragedy of the rich young ruler.

 

The rich young ruler who encountered Jesus is amazingly similar to Abraham. Both were financially secure, young, and influential leaders of their communities. Both were very religious, Abraham in paganism and the rich young ruler in Judaism. And both had a deep hunger for a spiritual encounter with God beyond the rituals that defined their spiritual experience.

 

After acknowledging Jesus' reputation and authority as a rabbi, the young man got straight to the point. “I have everything in this life, but there's still something missing. How do I inherit eternal life?”

 

Testing his motives, Jesus cited the Commandments, the very foundation of the young ruler's faith. Interestingly, Jesus quoted only the commandments concerning relationship with other people. God looks for faith demonstrated by action.

 

There was no arrogance in the man's reply. “All these I have kept from my youth. My doctrine, my religion, my morals are intact, but that doesn't satisfy me.”

 

Then Jesus looking at him, loved him.” Jesus saw no reason to doubt his integrity. Kneeling before Him was a young man on the verge of greatness and destiny. Jesus was immediately attracted to him, ready to mentor him. His answer cut right to the root of the issue. “To find the missing piece in your quest for eternal life, give up your wealth, your position and your influence, which have become your security. In total surrender to God, let His eternal Word be your security. Begin a journey of faith and friendship with Me.”

 

As God called Abraham to leave all and follow, Jesus called the rich young ruler to leave all and follow Him. It was a call to shift from relying on temporal earthly security to depending on the eternal promises of a faithful God—a huge risk and a bold step of faith. But wasn't that what he asked for: How do I inherit eternal life?

 

Feelings of sorrow and regret similar to those the young ruler well up in us as we think of all we supposedly have to give up when we totally surrender to Jesus. That mentality is purely religious. It reflects a poverty mindset, not the culture of blessing God desires for us.

 

The rich young ruler was secure in his wealth, influence and religion. Jesus challenged him to let go of this earthly security and embrace the eternal security described in His sermon on the mount—“Set the Kingdom of God as priority and you will be well taken care of by your Father in Heaven.”

 

Abraham left all to begin his journey of faith and friendship with God. We are told Abraham never once regretted his decision. Besides unimaginable favor and blessing, he enjoyed immeasurable freedom in his relationship with the Eternal God. The rich young ruler, on the other hand, turned away sorrowful. He never broke free of the chains by which his earthly possessions possessed him!

 

The greatest tragedy of this story is found in Jesus' words, “Come, follow me.” Jesus only extended that personal invitation to twelve others. They became the disciples he mentored for 3 1/2 years. After being endued with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit, the influence of these “Apostles” spread across the then-known world, changing history forever! The rich young ruler was invited to be one of them! In the light of what Jesus offered him, was the price too high?

 

And us? Do we count the cost too high to surrender our earthly security for His eternal security? Do we still hesitate to take the journey of faith and friendship with God, trusting Him to take good care of us along the way to the greatness and destiny Father has in mind for us?

 

Shalom!

(The story of the rich young ruler is found in Matthew 19:16-22. Mark 10:17-22, Luke 18:18-23)

Illustration of Rich Young Ruler by John Lear, "The King Nobody Wanted", <www.gutenberg.org>

 

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!