A Joyful Noise

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” – Psalm 100:1

Seahawks

I am a Seattle Seahawks fan. The Seattle Seahawks fans are known for their loudness. It is said they are louder than when an airplane is about to takeoff. In 2013, the Seahawks fans screamed and made such a loud noise such that they caused a small earthquake which registered 137.6 decibels! The Seattle Seahawks fans are serious about their support of their beloved team.

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Psalm 100 encourages God’s people to worship God without any restraints. The Psalmist exhorts the people to freely express their love for God. For us today, we are to freely worship God. We are to remove all restraints which inhibit us from articulating our undying love for God.

Joyful noise

Why joyful noise?

SAVED. We are to be joyful because we are no longer slaves to sin. God set us free. “We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.” – Romans 6:6

GOD’S PRESENCE. Our present circumstance, though not perfect, is much better than where we were. The past was doom and gloom. God redeemed us from a dark past. Here, in the present, the presence of God sustains us. We are joyful because God is with us, no matter the circumstances. “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11

VICTORY. We are joyful because we are over-comers. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.  “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

ANSWERED PRAYERS. Many of us can name a few or many answered prayers. We owe it to God to thank Him for hearing our prayers. We owe it to Him to thank Him for all His blessings and miracles.

THE FUTURE. We are full of hope for the future. God is preparing a bright future for us. Why should we be sad? We will not let the pain of yesterday rob us of the future that awaits us. “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him.” – I Corinthians 2:9.

We might not cause the earth to shake like the Seattle Seahawks fans do, but we must not shy away from a deep expression of our love for God. Our joyful noise for God must shake the gates of Hades. Are you ready to make a joyful noise to the Lord?

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Confession is Good for the Soul

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I John 1:8-10, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.”

It’s been said, “Confession is good for the soul.” Is this statement true? Is confession easy to do? To whom should we confess, anyway? I must confess, I find it hard and awkward to confess my sins to other people. I find it difficult to confess to God, as well.

Confession to God is serious business. Confession to God means we accept our sins, and we acknowledge that God can do something about our sins. Here are some reasons why people struggle to confess their sins to God.

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  1. IGNORANCE. You do not know what you do not know.  You don’t know what you did wrong. Sometimes you have to wait for a sermon or for someone to remind you of your transgressions. Some people do not believe their actions are sinful. They think their actions are just misguided mistakes, and errors. No need to confess, so they think.
  2. GUILT. This is the big one here. People struggle to face God when they are aware of the huge wall of sin blocking their view of God. They may feel bad, remorseful, and ashamed. They might wonder if the Holy God would want to hear from them. They envision God saying, “Not again. How many times are you going to keep sinning and coming back to ask for forgiveness?” Acknowledging your own sin is a humbling exercise. Facing God while you are in sin is embarrassing and shameful. Hiding or ignoring your sins does not make the sins disappear. Sooner or later, you are going to deal with those sins. It is better to confess them now, when grace is available, than at a time when it would be too late.
  3. BUSYNESS. A rushed life has no time for deep, thoughtful communication with God. When people are rushed, they tend to make general, drive-by prayers. They gloss over serious problems, and dismiss them as insignificant errors. Quality, unhurried time with God is conducive for serious reflection on the ugliness of sin, and the beauty of God’s abundant grace.

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Every time we confess how we have missed the mark of God’s love and truth, we open ourselves up to the mending work of the cross. Jesus’ wounds hold true life-changing power. This is the shocking reality that confession can open up to us.” (Adele Calhoun)

Yes, confession is good for the soul. It makes the soul right with God. God knows your sins. God is not happy with your sins. Continuing in sin places your relationship with God in jeopardy. You must confess your sins, not only to clear your conscience, but to clear the path to God.

Stop running, stop hiding, confess your sins to God, and God will cleanse you.

Called to be Faithful

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“I recently read about an old man, walking the beach at dawn, who noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth, he asked what he was doing. The answer was that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. ‘But the beach goes on for miles and miles, and there are millions of starfish,’ countered the man. ‘How can your effort make any difference?’ The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves. ‘It makes a difference to this one,’ he said.” – Hugh Duncan, Leadership Journal.

Faithfulness makes a difference. When I hear the word faithfulness, I think of words and phrases like loyalty, stick-to-it, hang on, consistency, reliable, dependable, always there, never give up, and so forth. Faithfulness means loyal, unmovable allegiance to God, spouse, family, people, school, work, or a cause. For us as Christians, we are called to remain faithful to God, and in all our relationships and commitments. We face obstacles and temptations which seek to derail our faithfulness and allegiance to God. Yet, we are called to remain faithful through it all.

How to remain faithful

1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” From this verse we learn the following:

  1. Be alert at all times. Keep your eyes open. Be attentive to your surroundings and situations. The devil seeks to attack, frustrate, and destroy your faith. Watch out for people, things, and places which might derail you. 1 Peter 5:8, “Be alert and of sober mind.Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

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2. Stand firm, immovable, grounded, anchored in your faith. Establish your position and refuse to let anything move you. Say, “Not today, nor ever. Not in my house, devil!” Ephesians 6:13-14, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then…” 

3. Do not be afraid. The enemy will huff and puff; situations will intimidate you, but do not be afraid. Stand your ground. Be bold. Be fearless. Isaiah 41:10, ““So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” 

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4. Be strong. Draw your strength from God through prayer. When you are weak, trust God to give you strength to persevere through it all. Joshua 1:6-7a, “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. Be strong and very courageous.” Yes, you can be faithful. Someone is counting on your? Your faithfulness makes a difference.

Bringing Our Pain to Jesus

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Mother’s Day is a day to celebrate our dear mothers. Mother’s Day can be a great day but can be a painful day for those whose mothers are no longer here with us.

The sun was about to bid the day farewell. It had turned into a big, tan ball lingering on the threshold of the sky and the earth; day and night. The warmth of the sun was diminishing as a cool breeze began to sweep over the earth. Darkness encroached ever so slightly, as light progressively disappeared. The good day was coming to an end. ‘Say “Hi” to everyone. I am going to wait in the room,’ Rutendo said, as she descended down the stairs. Our room was on the ground floor facing west just a few feet from the lake. The jetty (dock) went from the edge of the building extending into the lake. The dock sat above the lake as if it were floating, rather hovering above the clear, glassy lake.

I rushed up the stairs to the school office. The School For Youth Leadership building in Lake Munmorah located in NSW Australia sat at the top of a steep flight of stairs. I walked past a couple of fellow students. The receiver of an old phone with a curled chord lay on the desk. I picked up the phone and said, ‘Hello’. On the other end of the line was a familiar voice. It was my sister, Sunbeam. Her voice was muted, broken, and somber. I could barely hear her, as she started crying. She paused for what seemed like an eternity.

My mind raced, rather spun in circles, as I tried to figure out what news she was about to share.  My heart thumped hard as if it would break my rib cage.

‘Rutendo’s mother just passed away…’ she said. What? Suddenly, I went blind – I saw nothing. My head seemed to go into a tailspin like I was being tossed back and forth, spinning in an emotional tornado. I did not hear anything else she said. My knees buckled under my frame, tumbling me into the chair. This sad, painful news came to me almost like a spear had been driven into my core. I sat there motionless. I felt warm tears trickle down my cheeks. I wept. I wept for my wife. I wept for my father-in-law. I wept for my wife’s siblings. How would I share this difficult news with Rutendo? How would I let Rutendo know her best friend, her mentor, her confidant had passed away? How? My feet were heavy as I began the descent to our room to share the news with my wife. This was the most painful news I have ever had to deliver. That became one of our darkest nights together.

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Mother’s Day is a heavy day in our household. Mother’s Day is a reflection day in our household. Mother’s Day is a day of cherishing warm memories of my mother-in-law. Mother’s Day can be a painful day for those whose mothers are no longer here with us. If you lost your mother, you are not alone. Let this year’s Mother’s Day be a day to fondly remember and cherish the times you shared with your mother. Let this year’s Mother’s Day be the day you bring your raw pain to Jesus. Come cry at his feet. He will hear you and wipe your tears away. He cares for you. He loves you. You are not alone. Jesus is with you, through your darkest pain.

Embrace this Mother’s Day as a way of honouring your dear mother’s memory.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ (Revelation 21:4)

‘The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.’ (Psalm 34:18)

Fellowship Matters

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Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Fellowship is the intentional gathering of God’s people to walk alongside each other, socialize, learn, and encourage each other. Fellowship constitutes spending quality time with the family of God.

WHY FELLOWSHIP IS HARD

  1. Selfish ulterior motives. What’s in it for me? I come to get. I come to be entertained.
  2. High, lofty expectations. It has to solve all my problems.
  3. Introvert. Do not want to be around people. Want to be alone. Want to get away from crowds.
  4. Do not want to be around religious people. Don’t want to hear religious talk. I’ve my friends far from here. Phony, hypocrites.
  5. Too spiritual, too quickly. Too heavenly minded, no earthly good.
  6. Too shallow, too goofy. Feel it’s a waste of time. Too earthly minded, no heavenly good!
  7. Too busy. Life demands. Work and family, school and social life. No time for another extra church thing. Busy schedules.
  8. Dysfunctional relationships. Distrust that this would work. Fear there will be fights and disagreements.
  9. Insecurities. I’m not as good as they. I might be exposed. Not ready to be amongst them. I can’t afford to bring those items. I don’t know what to wear. Fear of being judged.
  10. Hurt/gossip. Sometimes Christian groups are not safe environments.

Here is how I define FELLOWSHIP

F – family. Friends. You belong.

E – encourage, inspire. You can do this. This is how it’s done.

L – Listen. Learn from each other. Observe each other. Older and younger. Grow together. Learn with each other. KNOW CHRIST; KNOW OTHERS; KNOW YOURSELF

L – Love one another. To know all is to forgive all. Misconceptions gone.

O – Obliged to check in. Accountability. Liable. I haven’t seen you at church in a while. 

W – Witness, talk about the Lord. About life. Teach others.

S – Service. Carry each other’s burdens. Be there for each other.

H – Human touch. Hugs and care. We crave human interaction.

I – Intimacy. Deep knowledge. Deep friendships. Closeness to others.

P – Pray. Know what to pray for. Prayer partners. Prayer list.

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HOW TO FELLOWSHIP

  1. DISCIPLESHIP GROUPS. Join a group. Band, songsters, Bible Study, etc
  2. GREET PEOPLE (BY NAME). Know people. Celebrate their special occasions.
  3. MEALS.  Join us in the fellowship hall for a meal. Come in say HI
  4. SOCIAL MEDIA/Facebook. Use social media to keep in touch, and to build relationships.
  5. OUTSIDE CORPS. Organize and attend outside corps events. Organic meetings outside the corps can build relationships.
  6. PICNIC. Picnics are essential in the life of a corps life. The park, sports, BBQ, children’s games, sitting at a table, all encourage fellowship.
  7. FAMILY EVENTS. Invite and celebrate family events together.
  8. DO CORPS MINISTRY TOGETHER. Fellowship can be done on your way to CCM, a concert, serving at the Food Bank, etc.

Do Good!

Do Good

Galatians 6:9-10, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

While we do not do good deeds to be saved, good deeds reveal that we are saved. The love of God oozes through our pores, spurring us to do good for others. Doing good makes us the extension of God’s hands and fee to a suffering world. God is the provider of all good gifts; the suffering world is the beneficiary of God’s good gifts. Our good deeds are the conduit through which God’s good gifts flow to His people. As Christians, we are called to never tire or become disconcerted with doing good.

  1. Emulate Jesus in doing good. Acts 10:38 says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

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  1. Love what is good. Titus 1:8 says, “Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined.
  2. Desire to do good. Titus 2:11-14 says, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
  3. Be ready to do good. Titus 3:1 says, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.”
  4. Be committed to doing good. Titus 3:8 says, “This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.”

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  • “Count that day lost in which you’ve not done something good for another.”(Unknown)
  • “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in every place you can, at all the times you can, to everyone you can, as long as you ever can—do all the good you can.” – John Wesley

Have you done any good deeds for anyone lately?

What is God calling you to do for someone this week?

What is stopping you from doing good?

How to Build a Strong Marriage

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This month, my wife and I celebrate 19 years of marriage. Here are a few things I have learned about marriage:

  1. Pray together to stay together. Pray for and with each other daily. Some couples find it weird or awkward to pray together. You must overcome the weirdness. Prayer helps create a bond between you both. You grow together spiritually. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Talk, call, text, email. Lear to express your feelings. Lack of communication stifles marriages. This also requires the need to listen.  Not to simply hear, but to listen to what the other is saying.  It is better to over-communicate, than to under-communicate. Secrets are the foundation of trouble.
  3. Leave and cleave. Be careful how much friends and family involvement you allow. Have each other’s backs. Do not attack, slander your spouse to your family, friends, or online.

 

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4. Handle finances together. Budget together. Handle finances well. Financial infidelity leads to problems.  Debt can destroy your marriage.

5. Respect each other. Calling each other names, sarcasm and derogatory statements can destroy your spouse. Be patient and caring. Be the C.E.O. (Chief Encouraging Officer) for each other.

6. Forgive each other. You will offend and disappoint each other. Apologize when wrong.  Don’t be stubborn. Saying I’m sorry is a sign of strength not weakness.  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

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7. Spend time together. Your time together must be a priority. Love is spelled T-I-M-E. Spend quality time with the person you love.  Date your mate.  Keep the fire burning through dates. Enjoy each other’s company. Put the smartphones down. Disconnect to reconnect.

8. Be faithful.  There will always someone more handsome/beautiful than your spouse. Be faithful to your spouse. Go on dates. Keep your love fresh and growing.

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9. Love is decision. Love is not just a feeling. You will wake up one day saying, “What did I do?” You married that person, that’s what you did. Decide to stay in love, even when the going gets tough.

10. Think in twos. Involve each other in all decision-making efforts. Check with your spouse first, before agreeing to something.

11. Right company. Surround yourselves with other couples and mentors who encourage, challenge, and support your marriage. There are many forces working against your marriage. Build a hedge of protection around your marriage through your support network.

12. Testimony. Let you marriage be a testimony to your children, family, friends, church, and community. Set an example so that many want to have a marriage like yours. Your children are watching you. Do this marriage thing right!

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