Posts Tagged ‘relationship with God’

SHAKE, RATTLE and ROLL

Written by Les Dahl on November 1st, 2016. Posted in Peace, Sage's Scroll

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document.write(" geneva, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;">“Resist fear…I am your shield…your reward shall be beyond your expectation…”

Genesis 15:1 (paraphrased)

An alliance of four kings rebelled against an oppressive confederation of five kings. They sacked their cities, gathered the loot and headed home with the prisoners. Abram’s nephew Lot was among them. 

Abram mustered his servants—318 trusted Gurkha-like warriors—pursued and conquered the unsuspecting commandos. He returned with ALL the plunder and ALL the prisoners.

Think of it. Three hundred and eighteen servants (not professional soldiers!) out-muscled an allied army of several thousand. That’s sovereign intervention!

On his way home Abram was met by Melchizedek, “king of Salem, priest of God Most High”, who pronounced blessing on him. Abram honored God and acknowledged His servant with a tithe.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, the king of Sodom told Abram, “Just give me the citizens, you keep all the booty.” Instant exorbitant riches—fair compensation for a comprehensive military victory.

But Abram refused. “I’ve made a deal with the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, to not take even a shoelace from anyone—God alone gets credit for my provision and wealth.” That’s a bold statement of faith with a courageous demonstration to back it up.

Profound affirmation after incredible military victory against impossible odds followed by daring proclamation of faith! So why would God tell Abram “Don't be afraid”?

My guess is that God saw several issues in Abram that stemmed from a root of fear. Interestingly, like Abram, we are most vulnerable to these tentacles of fear immediately after sovereign intervention. They choke the life out of our faith.

Abram probably second-guessed his refusing the king’s offer. That was a lot of plunder, after all, and Abram was as human as you and I.

But weighing even heavier on Abram’s faith was God’s unfulfilled promise. It’d been a long wait with still no sign of a son. Yes, the military victory over the four-king alliance was a miracle, but this was personal.

God spoke to the heart of Abram”s problem. “Shift your focus, Abram. I AM your shield—your protection against fear that cripples your faith and steals your reward.”

Look at the protection God offers:

  • physical: “I will remove or disarm people and structures that stand in the way of your forward movement and answered prayers.”
  • material: “I will take you and keep you out of lack and poverty.”
  • emotional: “I will replace all those feelings that rob you of confidence and hope.”
  • spiritual: “I will empower you against doubt and unbelief.”

With an Iron Dome shield like that, we can hold steady as we move step by step toward promised destiny.

Without hesitation, I certify that this Scripture is true—the Almighty, our Father, is a trustworthy shield against all fear. From our experience, I can testify that the reward of obedient faith is exceedingly great. Resist fear, embrace the Father as your shield, and then let Him surprise you with His faithfulness.

Shalom

      

     

 

 

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“I will shake heaven and earth…”   Haggai 2:6

We had no plans to leave Jamaica. Living in paradise is not always easy, remedy but our roots had grown 31 years deep. So the gnawing sense that Father was asking us to move back to Canada felt uneasy. None of us readily breaks out of our comfort zone.

But change was blowing in the wind, sale and the words of Haggai were echoing around the world in the mouths of present-day prophets: “I will shake heaven and earth…”

Interesting how we distance ourselves from the “Word.”  We’re sure He’s talking to someone else, not us. Little did we realize that we were heading for some shaking and rattling to get us rolling! 

One of the first lessons we had to learn was to let go. Not easy, because the response is counter-intuitive. Instinctively, when our status quo is threatened we tighten our grip on the things that give us security.

But when God starts shaking things up, the only safe response is to let it go. We need not fear for He watches over us to catch us if we slip. His intention is to break loose things that impede our moving forward.

One of dangers in life is that we too easily become comfortable and complacent. The demonstration of peace, hope and well-being is displaced by the mundane. The light and joy within dim. We trudge from day to day.

In His mercy, God shakes us out of our death spiral so we can break into abounding life. “I’ve come to ignite you with a spectacular display of life,” Jesus said. (John 10:10)

But we must choose. Either our relationship with God stays in a familiar rut or we pluck up courage to face reality. I chose the latter.

“Who are You? Show me something about You that I’ve not known. Tell me some things You share only with Your closest friends.” I’m desperate.

His answer is immediate and simple, “Okay, but first you’ll have to get rid of some old notions about Me. And we will dialogue differently from what you’re used to—what you call ‘pray.’  Are you up for that?”

“Second, you’ll need to change the way you engage with My Word (the Bible). You can’t just read it casually or even dutifully. You must anticipate as you read, listen for my faint whisper as I speak to you. Focus your full attention or you’ll miss it.”

“Each morning I will give you a sword.  With it you can chop through every circumstance you encounter and defeat the enemy waiting on your path to ambush you—that old snake who still hisses in your ear, “Did God really say that? You don’t really believe that, do you?”

“Third, I’m going to assay your faith, or lack of it. I will uncover the cancerous anxiety, doubt and unbelief embedded in you. You believe I exist as Creator and King of the Universe—that’s faith. But I’m bringing you to trustliving with the awareness that I am an intimate part of your life and that every single thing that happens is for your good.”

“My objective is to instill in you what John expressed when he wrote, “We have this confidence toward Him: we know that He hears us when we ask, and therefore we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

“One last thing. This is no quick fix, it’s a process. At times it will feel like open heart surgery. Sometimes it will feel like you’re going through hell. Don’t stop! Even when you feel like it—don’t quit!”

“There is a through…you will make it through, I’ll see to that. And there is an other side…I’m talking here-and-now, in-your-lifetime; and it’s beyond what you can imagine. Are you up for it?”

My choice is clear…

Shalom

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

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!

 

WHO CAN YOU TRUST?

Written by Les Dahl on May 3rd, 2015. Posted in Uncategorized

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document.write(" geneva; font-size: 16px;">Shalom finds anchor in trust—unshakeable, unmovable, bedrock trust. But in our highly transient and disposable world, who can you trust?

There are days when pressures and circumstances reach 'category 5 hurricane' level (that's Ivan in Jamaica [2004] and Katrina in New Orleans [2005]). Sustained winds and imminent destruction summon every ounce of courage to press on. Is shalom a realistic hope?

My answer is 'yes', but not without price.

Shalom springs from a personal relationship with our Creator. Not a relationship defined by religious doctrine or ritual, but one that is authentic and tested by the realities of life. A relationship in which God is no longer a 'Supreme Being' or 'Higher Power' distant and detached, but a loving, caring Father keenly interested and engaged in our life. A relationship that is so personal and real that we share our true thoughts and feelings without reservation or fear. A relationship that is so authentic and true that we expect God to listen with utmost patience and empathy—understanding fully what we're going through—and then to answer with reciprocal candor and concern. Only when I know with certainty that I am my Father's child, loved without condition or reserve, can I trust Him to keep me safe and see me through the day. Only when I trust Him fully can I let go of me fears and insecurities and feel shalom.

On June 30, 1859, Charles Blondin stunned the world?by crossing the Niagara Gorge on a 3.25 inch rope.?The 1,100 foot Manila-hemp, strung 160 feet above the raging Niagara River,? deemed one of the most powerful river currents in the world,? provided a precarious crossing from American to Canadian soil and back again. ?Blondin made it look like child's play.

Blondin followed his history-making feat with many other crossings, ?each more daring than the next: ?blindfolded, on stilts, sitting down midway to cook and eat an omelet, balancing on a chair with only one of its legs on the rope,? pushing a loaded wheelbarrow, among other theatrics.?Huge crowds cheered wildly as they watched impossible exploits performed before their very eyes!

On one of his stunts, Blondin piggy-backed his manager,? Harry Colcord, across the expanse.?Before beginning the death-defying journey Blondin gave these simple instructions:

Look up, Harry. You are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin. Be a part of me—mind, body and soul. If I sway, sway with me.? Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself. If you do, we will both go to our death.”

That image and those words profoundly define trust.

Getting from where we are today to the amazing reality of shalom, ?we will have to piggy-back on Him, ?looking up with unwavering gaze to Heaven instead of our dizzying circumstances. Fully surrendered in relationship with Father, we become part of Christ—mind, body and soul;? our heart so attuned to Holy Spirit that our every move is synchronized with His slightest sway. Only then can He carry us step by step, ?perfectly balanced in shalom—?one step at a time, one day at a time!

Blessings...

 

Image from Blondin: His Life and Performances. Edited by G. Linnaeus Banks. London, New York: Routledge, Warne, and Routledge, 1862.