Countenance Check-up

bible in handCountenance Check-up

 

Psalm 34:5  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame… V8 Taste and see that the Lord is good.

 

It’s neat hanging around people who smile.  They bring a lightness to the conversation and a sense of being at ease.  Other people who don’t smile or find much joy in life aren’t as neat to hang around.  You know what I mean?  Which person am I?

 

This tiny verse in Psalm 34 unravels a divine secret to finding a heart joy and contentment that gets expressed in a radiant face.  Joy is visibly evident in the person’s life.  Sure the person may be experiencing some life trials, yet the trial is buffered with true perspective.  God’s viewpoint gets downloaded to the one who chooses to do what the Psalmist says in v5.  “Those who look to him are radiant, their faces are never covered with shame.”

 

I once saw a guy eating a slice of pizza at a food court in London.  I couldn’t help but stare discreetly.  I believe he was eating a slice of Pizza Pizza “pizza”.  Either the man was ravishingly hungry or he was high, I thought.  Apparently a security guard came over later to usher him off the premises.  Some chatter from neighbouring tables indicated this guy was high on drugs.  Whatever the case, I watched with fascination and some smiling, as he began to eat the slice.  You would have thought this was the most incredible pizza ever the way he got into eating it with such expression on his face.  He would have made a great poster boy for the Pizza company.  The delight he was experiencing, granted it may have been aided by some illegal drugs, was crystal clear on his face.  Where are you going with this Scott?

 

Our faces will show what we’re experiencing.  Substitute the delicious pizza for an invisible feast of spiritual delights – spiritually tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8.

 

I’m the same as you.  When I have turned my heart away from tasting my God in his Word, the Bible, my face tends to look more weary or less joyful.

 

Next time you look in the mirror, brushing your teeth or blow drying your hair, evaluate your countenance with God’s help.  Is there a level of contentment and joy or weariness and worry coming through?

 

Here’s a sure fire solution to getting back to a shameless radiant face:  Look to the Lord, taste his goodness by reading and digesting and applying his nourishing words.  Pick up a Bible reading plan and commit to carving out time each day to put your eyes and heart on the pages of Scripture.  I believe this is one of the greatest needs in our culture today.  I’m not talking about people outside the church.  I’m talking regular church attenders and members.

Watch what happens to your soul after a week in the Word.  Hey, read over the rest of Psalm 34 and give God permission to speak personally.  He will, and you’ll begin to notice and maybe hear comments about your countenance changing.

Friend, Taste and see that the Lord is Good!  Don’t waste your appetite and tastebuds on lesser things.



V.I.M

I’ve been reading and thinking on philosophy of ministry for growing authentic followers of Jesus.  I resonate with Dallas Willard and the way he frames things.  Here’s his definition of Spiritual formation:

“a Spirit driven process of forming the inner world of the human self – our ‘spiritual’ side- in such a way that it becomes like the inner being of Christ himself.  In the degree to which such a spiritual transformation to inner Christlikeness is successful, the outer life of the individual will become a natural expression or outflow of the character and teachings of Jesus.  We simply ‘walk the walk’ as we say.”

To increasingly look and act like Jesus, Willard says we must implement the appropriate Vision, Intention and Means. V.I.M.   First, we need to have a VISION of our life in the kingdom as Jesus taught.  It is the vision of life now and forever in the range of God’s effective will.  Meaning, we are partaking of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) and participating by our actions in what God is doing here and now, in our lifetime.  Whatever we do, we are doing it on behalf of Christ and giving thanks to God our Father (Colossians 3:17).  This vision relies on the power of God the Spirit working in and through us.   Second, with a Vision of this kingdom living it is possible for us to intend to live in the kingdom as he did.  We can decide to do this.  We intend to live this life by intending to actually obey the teachings of Jesus.  William Law (1700’s) wrote a book called “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life”.  This paragraph gets at this vital piece of INTENTION:  “And if you will here stop, and ask yourselves, why you are not as pious as the primitive Christians were, your own heart will tell you that it is neither through ignorance, nor inability, but purely because you never thoroughly intended it…”

I’m thinking here, why don’t we intend to actually live as Jesus calls us to?  is it because the vision is fuzzy or unclear? Is it because we have a competing vision(s) that minimizes the vision Christ has for us?  life is just too busy?  Whatever the case, the LORD is calling us to weigh carefully our intention to actually love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  And, as this intention to live as Jesus invites us to live settles in, we get to the ‘M’ of V.I.M.

MEANS.  Simply put, the means of grace are activities which open our lives to the action of God in our heart, mind, body and soul, to progressively remake our whole personality.  Means are also referred to as spiritual disciplines.  John Wesley coined the phrase ‘means of grace’.  2 Timothy 4 says, “Train yourself for godliness…godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and the life to come.”

Willard encourages, I think rightly, focusing on even the discipline of solitude and silence – getting away from the noise, having a day of silence, no talking.  Clearing the mind of all the clutter to prepare to hear from the Lord.  After all, this is modeling what Jesus did, he went away to a solitary place.  And the disciplines of study and worship.  Meditating and lingering over passages in the Bible inviting the Lord to press the truths into our hearts, not just for knowledge sake but for worship and service back to him.

I have found myself pleading with people to simply read their Bibles.  Part of what is missing is the enormous vision and benefit of what my life could look like in submission to Christ in his kingdom.  Vision first, then the intention to actually pursue this vision, applying the Means.  Taken from a Dallas Willard paper, “Living a Transformed Life Adequate to our Calling”, found at www.dwillard.org.

Peace, Pastor Scott

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Pray for Micaiah

On February 16th Micaiah Thomson is going to Florida on a week long trip called the Genocide Awareness Project, (GAP) with an organization called the Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, (CCBR) where she will be with a team of people exposing the injustice of abortion to the American public.

Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has no restrictions on abortions whatsoever. 100,000 abortions are done every year in Canada. That is 300 every day! Whether it be because the baby is a girl, is disabled or simply not wanted, abortion is legal, readily available, and paid for with our tax dollars throughout all 9 months of pregnancy. We are trying to show people that the fact that abortion is common and widely accepted does not make it right.

CCBR has looked at other injustices in the past, studied what was the most effective in fighting it, and adopted those elements. The biggest one is the use of graphic images. Gregg Cunningham said, “Injustice that is invisible, inevitably becomes tolerable. But injustice that is made visible, inevitably becomes intolerable.” Though it is hard on us to see what abortion really is and what it does, it is important that people understand the truth if we ever hope to come to a point where it is no longer tolerable. That is our goal: to make abortion unthinkable in Canada.

Micaiah is going to Florida where she will be given training on abortion apologetics, and how to speak with people effectively. The team is going to college campuses, set up a display of abortion pictures and pictures of other injustices that are comparable and then asking people: what do you think about abortion? The idea is to engage in discussion and show people the truth.

Micaiah shares, “My hope in going is that I will grow personally, affect change with people and their stance on abortion, and become a better speaker on the issue. I want to bring back the knowledge that I get there to Windsor and continue the fight against abortion here. This is going to be a hard week for me. But God is strong and I am taking him with me, so I don’t have to worry.”

Let’s join in praying for Micaiah the week of February 16th to 22nd.



Satisfied with God’s food

bible reader

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  Psalm 63:1″If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  John 15:7,8

  The challenge for 2013 is to grow even closer to God through regular times of personal prayer and Bible reading, accompanied by joining a Bible study and Sunday worship gatherings.  If you are looking for a Bible reading plan check out youversion.com  and explore the various reading plans you can get plugged into.

Try this; after doing your reading of Scripture, pray back to the LORD a thought that stands out to you, meditate on it, ask him for ‘this’ or declare it back to Him.  Click on this link http://www.prayerconnect.net/profile/sample and download a free sample of this magazine.  page 13 has a very helpful article called “Scripture Prescription”.

Let’s earnestly seek the Lord this year and discover how satisfying it is to have his words and presence dwell in us richly.

    This year, 2013, we are encouraging everyone to memorize 52 questions and answers about our Christian faith.  The catechism is a tool to help affirm what we believe.  Each Sunday we will be going over the previous week’s Q & A and learning the next week’s Q & A.  Use the resource at home to practice: http://www.newcitycatechism.com/home.php

You are loved, Pastor Scott

 




 

Ambassador Baptist Church

3285 Manchester Road,

Windsor N9C 1Y1   ph 519 256 8431