THE DIFFICULT ROAD OF PERSEVERANCE

Strength of the Month: Perseverance

Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

___________

About fifteen years ago, long before I came to faith in Christ, a friend and I had planned a last minute cottage trip the Thursday afternoon before a long weekend. Since neither of us had made any plans for the weekend, we decided to go all out on our cottage trip.

We both had grown up with fathers who were outdoorsman and so we knew how to handle ourselves very well camping in the wild, but we also had no hesitations about availing ourselves to the modern amenities of RV’s and cottages now that we were able to plan our trips ourselves.

All of our paths we had quickly traced out:

– we’d need to season up a box of chicken legs, shrimps, steaks and burgers ready for the grill beforehand.

– we’d carry eggs, turkey bacon, toast, a frying pan, cooking oil, and various other seasoning and dishes for an extravagant breakfast, lunch & dinner.

– we’d need to pack a bag of extra clothes, hygiene necessities, and sleeping bags.

– we’d need to pick up firewood, lighter fluid, and be sure to have a lighter.

– and of course, (back then) we’d need a case of beer, a few packs of smokes, and a bottle of something as an alternative to beer, along with a couple bottles of juice and chaser.

As you can already tell, when we pursued something, we did so with great attention to detail.

Just like the same effort some people put into planning their birthdays, vacations, extravagant receptions or various other occasions special to them, we gave ourselves wholly to the task.

But with less than twenty four hours standing between us and the beginning of our adventure – a three hour drive Northeast of Toronto – my friend and I had much to get done to ensure all was in order.

So I set off to a nearby grocery store, liquor store, and Shopper’s Drug Mart to acquire the ‘necessities’ for our trip.

Meanwhile, my buddy had some vehicle maintenance that he had been putting off that urgently needed to be tended to if we wanted to get there safely. So he also set himself to task.

When I was growing up, we often used the word “missions”, but we never meant the same thing that I now mean when I say it within a Christian context today, but interestingly enough, a lot of the variables are the same as I hope you’ll soon see.

After a long afternoon of labouring from one store to another to gather our supplies, and my friend going from one shop to another trying to acquire both the parts and the installation of those parts to secure his vehicle, the day was long spent.

I didn’t give him the ‘it is finished’ call until late almost 2am, and he was still tending to his truck on the driveway when I did.

We had plan to set on our way at 7:00am that Friday morning which was now only a few hours away, in order to beat the traffic and get a good head start into our weekend.

When I awoke however, my buddy had not slept the entire night. He stayed up trying to resolve a mechanical issue and now at his wits end, needed to tow his truck to an actual mechanic to complete.

I took a cab to meet him with a duffel bag and two large coolers of food and drink.

We could tell the day was going to be a hot one as the sun rose, and we met around 8:30am at the mechanic shop who was only working half-day in anticipation of the long weekend.

We began with replacing the brakes and brake lines, and ended by uncovering that he also required a new gas tank, gas lines and gas pump.

We were able to acquire everything except the gas pump. And the only place in town that had it for his vehicle was now closed until the following Tuesday.

It was well past noon and we began to wonder if maybe we were not even supposed to go to the cottage this weekend. Like, maybe this was a divinely appointed thwarting of our determined efforts in order to keep us from some ‘unknown harms’ that lay ahead that we were currently unaware of.

It’s funny how our minds work sometimes. If we really want to, I’m certain that we can find a way to justify just about any course of action we take in life. (Something definitely worth reflecting more deeply upon.)

I, however, quickly put away the thought. We had put far too much effort into this day and far too much work into getting this far. Why should we give up now?

So I resolved that maybe we could rent a car for the weekend. After all, we were right at a busy intersection that had many rental car companies. So we began up and down both sides of the busy road from company to company only to be informed that they were all completely booked up for the long weekend.

When we finally found a place that had a car available, we ran into a new issue since my license was suspended but I had a credit card, and my friend had a valid license but didn’t have a credit card. Since the renter must possess both, our only glimmer of hope quickly dwindled away.

It was then that my sister called me. I had given her my car to use since she had been in a recent accident so she could get to school since my license was suspended.

She came to pick us up along with our coolers and bags.

As she drove us home as we recounted the details of our day, I suppose sympathy overtook her heart and she decided to let us use my car since she didn’t have class for the weekend, and could get around by other means if she needed to for the few days.

Greatly encouraged, we began optimistically believing once again that we might actually make it to the cottage after all!

My sister dropped herself home and we began on our way to the nearest grocery store to acquire some ice to ensure that the coolers were still holding up.

By the time we reached the store we had realized that the back tire was flat. In fact, we could see the two-inch screw that was gorged into the base of the tire that punctured it.

Once again despair began to rear its ugly face. Was this a sign? How could so many things go wrong in one day?

My friend called CAA who he said would come patch up the punctured tire right on the scene.

The only problem was that there was a three-hour wait time since long weekends were notorious for service calls.

Once again, my mind purposed to action. I only lived a block away and had four chrome rims with tires on them in my garage. If we could somehow just get back to the house, I also had the tools to change a tire, and we could be on our way in less than an hour.

So carefully, we slowly drove out of the grocery store parking lot, now on a completely flat from tire, and down the street one block back into my complex and onto my driveway.

Upon our arrival, I quickly opened the garage and threw three rims with tires into the trunk to make up for the spare tire I didn’t have while my friend jacked up the car getting it ready for me to replace the one flat.

That was the fastest I’ve probably ever changed a tire in my life!

We were back on the road in no time yet it was close to 7:30pm by now. Before leaving for our trip, my friend reminded me that he had worked from the day before right into this new day. He still needed to pack a bag and wanted nothing more than to take a shower before we left.

So we headed from south Mississauga up to the northern most part of Brampton to accommodate him.

As we crept through the post-rush-hour 410 traffic north, all of a sudden we heard a loud pop! This sound was now all too familiar to us. Another tire had blown out! This time in the front.

We couldn’t believe our luck, but we had anticipated such a problem and were adequately prepared to resolve it in no time. Or so we thought.

We pulled over and removed another rim from the trunk. But to our horror, we quickly realized that we had left the appropriate tire iron for my vehicle back in my garage at home along with the car jack after we changed the first tire!

In order to avoid feelings of shame that day, I think a thought far worse than mere self-inflicted stupidity crept in to my thoughts. Pride. Then my frustrations quickly turned into sheer recklessness.

We already knew the wait-time for CAA. We already had been through failure after failure after failure that day. The truck problems, the rental car hindrances, and the punctured tire difficulties. I was intimately acquainted with resistance, and now I felt like something or ‘someone’ was actually fighting against us – whatever it was, it was not going to win!

So I told my friend to get into the passenger seat, and against all sound judgement, without a valid license, with sparks flying from the rim, I drove that car at least four kilometres to the next exit, and then a few more blocks to a nearby coffee shop after we exited.

Once we got there, now almost covered in the darkness of the night, we waved down vehicles asking for a tire iron and jack – but it also had to be of a similar make and model as my car in order for it to work which greatly decreased our odds of both finding the right car, and then a driver of such a kind heart so as to avail these tools to two young men at the fall of night.

Surprisingly, about an hour later, an elderly woman pulled into the plaza who assisted us with the very things we needed and so we were on our way. By the time we pulled up on the driveway of my friend’s home, it was probably just past 11pm Friday night.

Exhausted, discouraged, and wondering what the long weekend might hold for us now, we cracked two beers and sat back reflecting on all that had transpired on this uniquely eventful day.

We threw a few ideas onto the table as we talked about possibly salvaging the alcohol and food by having a backyard barbecue Saturday night, but everyone we spoke to that evening already had long weekend plans. Long weekends were like a community staple among the circle I grew up with. To be found without plans on a long weekend was like committing social suicide.

Not long into our conversation I looked up at my friend with a second breath of unusual hope reignited once again…. “do you still want to go to the cottage?” I said.

He smiled. We were mostly the best of friends because of our unusual tenacity and resolve for going the extra mile in circumstances just like these.

It didn’t take long for him to concede. “I’m in if you’re in!” he said. And we didn’t need to say any more than that. We quickly finished off our beers and began a checklist of check ups on the vehicle to ensure we would not be met with any more surprises. Oil levels, washer fluid, tire pressure, gas, a jack, spare tire, tire iron; everything we could think of.

Then, at almost 2:40am now Saturday morning, we began on our way. But before we left, almost as a novelty, we decided that maybe we should pray and ask “God” – whoever He was, to help us to get there safely. I was a former Muslim turned quasi-agnostic at the time, and my friend was brought up as a Hindu. Yet we joined together in prayer amidst desperation and clearly unusual circumstances and asked “God” to somehow bless our drive down to the cottage so we’d get there safely.

It was no easy drive. We stopped often for coffee breaks and to just splash our faces with water just to awaken a little while longer for the distant drive.

By the time we arrived the sun was now rising on Saturday morning. Since it was too early to check-in at our cottage, we drove over to my father’s lakeside cottage and sat on the docks watching the sun illuminate the skies with a variety of marvellous colours dancing across the almost endless waters as it met the horizon.

My friend quickly fell asleep in his lawn chair as I sat there marvelling in silence at the beauty of this glorious picture that nature was painting at the end of all that had transpired in the past maybe thirty three hours.

The more I looked upon that sunrise this particular morning, I realized how glad I was that I never gave up; how happy I was to have a friend who would go the distance with me; and how privileged I felt to now behold such a beautiful awesome vision at the end of all these difficult trials of the days before.

Every second of our struggles were worth it!

____________

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

The day when I first read these words, I closed my eyes and asked the Holy Spirit to show me the depth of its meaning, and oddly enough, the details of this experience I shared today came vividly flashing through my mind.

Now in a Christian context, this once seemingly foolish pursuit of a cottage weekend with the boys in my adolescent years now serves as a beautiful image of encouragement of the call all Saints have to perseverance and patient endurance in pursuit of our sanctification, the good we’re called to do, and to missions that bring the Gospel to the world!

It also reminds me of the winding roads we sometimes must traverse to victory. And that prayer has far more bearing on the outcome of our circumstances than we are sometimes willing to believe. And that whether we acknowledge it or not, Jesus hears our every prayer and intimately knows every detail of our lives – even when we didn’t know Him.

Amidst so many battles with doubt and fear, persecution, trials, adversities, and even our own struggle with sin, the driving force in our efforts to forge ahead – and encourage others to do so also – should be firmly footed upon the very absolute *hope* we have in what Jesus Christ has already accomplished by his death and resurrection that strengthens our resolve to not let anyone or anything steal our hearts visions of this glorious future whose beauty we sometimes cannot even begin to fathom; to which we can absolutely look forward to with all certainty of the wondrous brilliance of His appearing at the end of our journey!

Hope is essential because it is our ability to bring a piece of that very certain future glory into every trial that exists in the here and now that encourages us to press on to the end.

___________

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Which is why I’ll continue to implore you,

 

Trust 👑 Jesus!

Advertisements

DOES PERCEPTION REALLY PRECEDE REALITY???

48383828_378966539539497_3336445782260711424_n

 

DOES PERCEPTION REALLY PRECEDE REALITY?

 

“If you were blind,” Jesus replied, “you would not be guilty of sin. But since you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
John 9:41

—————-

Astronaut Chris Hadfield’ Personal Commentary on Science And A Changing World*

When the very first balloon was launched that could carry people, it was in Paris in the late 1700’s, and it was Montgolfier the brothers, they had hydrogen balloons and hot air balloons and it was the cutting edge of science; it was the cutting edge of technology.

We had just learned how to capture a gas like hydrogen that would be lighter than air as you could make a balloon, and the first balloon rose, and Ben Franklin was there, and it was huge and magnificent.

It rose but it got out of control and it went and landed out in the countryside 15 miles away from Paris and the peasants there attacked it with pitchforks because they thought it was an alien coming from space.

The schism between learned understanding and the common perception of what was normal was that close…..

Just 15 miles away.

It was an enormous gap between what we knew and what we were doing and what a lot of folks knew yet, or what had become part of common knowledge.

So there’s nothing new about the speed with which we’re understanding things and the ability for other people to understand what is going on.

There’s a recent populous sort of wave of anti-science, as if that’s something new. It’s mostly because social media has given everybody what appears to be an equal voice.

On the corner of Hyde Park in London, there’s a Speaker’s Corner and that used to be the internet where you could go and yell any stupid thing that you wanted to, and if people wanted to gather around and listen – that was their choice – but if you weren’t interested in whatever that person was spouting then you didn’t need to listen.

But now, the internet has sort of turned everything into the Speaker’s Corner so you really have to just decide what are you going to listen to and what you’re going to disregard.

—————-

The true prevailing worldview among most religious and non-religious adherents alike today seems to be a sort of a modern agnosticism.

‘Gnostic,’ coming from the Greek root word: gnosis, from where we get the word “knowledge”, along with the preposition “a” meaning ‘not,’ or ‘ without,’ is in essence saying, God is ‘not-knowable,’ ‘not-known’ or that we are ‘without knowledge’ so that what agnosticism asserts is that He ‘cannot be known.’

But less than 15 miles away from everyone reading this message today is a local Bible believing church where Christians for two millenia have preached – even unto death – a very objective message about the very certain life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ!

He is the Messiah foretold of in the historical writings of the Torah and Prophets that pre-date His life on earth, and He is also the one now proclaimed and preached as the Messiah who we not only anticipated, but who indeed came as witnessed by those who walked with Him and gave testimony to this fact because they saw Him after His resurrection.

Even though Christmas may be rightly contested by some concerning whether or not it represents the exact date of his birth – an argument that also automatically presumes the reality of his life on earth – one thing is absolutely certain, that he ‘did’ indeed live two thousand years ago.

All of history has been fashioned so intricately around this truth that to deny it would be as poking pitchforks at a balloon and feeling affirmed in our own delusions for calling it alien, meanwhile those more adequately informed possess the knowledge to fly hydrogen air balloons in a field just 15 miles away.

This holiday season, I pray that you’ll venture into a local church and come see for yourself.

I mean, why should anyone spend another year denying such a well substantiated truth when the certainty of our eternal hope is less than 15 miles away?

 

Start this new year ‘with’ knowledge of the Savior who loves you and died for you,

 

 

Trust 👑 Jesus!

Cognitive Dissonance

_20190103_122705 (1)

 

Why do the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”

Our God is in heaven;
    He does whatever pleases him.

But their idols are silver and gold,
     made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
    eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
    noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel,
    feet, but cannot walk,
    nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
    and so will all who trust in them.
Psalm 115:2-8

 


 

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a person’s belief clashes with new evidence perceived by that person.

 

When confronted with facts that contradict personal beliefs, ideals, and values, people will find a way to resolve the contradiction in order to reduce their discomfort.

 

Leon Festinger proposed that human beings strive for internal psychological consistency in order to mentally function in the real world. A person who experiences internal inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable, and so is motivated to reduce the cognitive dissonance by making changes to justify the stressful behavior, either by adding new parts to the cognition causing the psychological dissonance, or by actively avoiding social situations and contradictory information likely to increase the magnitude of the cognitive dissonance.

 

This however has two dangers:

 

1. If you actively seek to avoid something that may be true because it makes you uncomfortable, you run the risk of living in delusion.

Or 2. If you continually live in the discomfort by subjecting yourself to truths that make you uncomfortable but are unwilling to consider their validity to ultimately yield to them if they actually prove true, you end up over time damaging your brain because of the conflict it creates and then can become even stronger in your resolve to believe a lie because the function of your brain that’s been internally designed to notify you that your beliefs are in conflict, cognitive dissonance, will become seared over time and less sensitive to notification.

 

But this is actually not new information.

 

Three thousand years ago, King Solomon – a man blessed with wisdom from God – recognized this reality where he wrote:

 

Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
Proverbs 15:32

Or

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.
Proverbs 12:1

 

____________

 

A thousand years later as the Apostle Paul further expounded on this wisdom you can see that he realized and then identified the far-reaching extents that it has over all of humanity when he penned the letter to the church in Rome:

 

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

 

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

 

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

 

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

 

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Romans 1:18-32

Therefore, it’s not at all a coincidence that a society that rejects the true and living God will also be a society that supports and promotes every form of evil from social gossip to perverse sexual relationships.

A rejection of the knowledge of God is directly linked to the manifestation of ungodly behaviour.

But it’s also no wonder then why those who do surrender and submit themselves to receive God’s forgiveness through Christ, and learn God’s ways at the feet of Jesus can embark on the path to now live godly lives.

Plus, even unbelievers can find solace in this truth because it also explains the offences most hold toward hypocritical professions of faith… Because it proves that although a person can attend church regularly each week, if when the Holy Spirit impresses their spirit with conviction they choose to not respond to it, they further create this cognitive dissonance that over time can dull their senses to His prompting – thus not benefitting them from a knowledge of God, or even worse – they can begin teaching things that are false from the pulpit!

 

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
1 Timothy 4:1-2

 

It is my earnest prayer then for 2019 that when we are confronted with uncomfortable truths that we would take the time to consider more carefully not only what the Holy Spirit is saying but also what our very own God-given senses are telling us as we grow up to maturity in a knowledge of the truth.

 

Remember, as long as you can feel the discomfort that a sobering Word can bring, you’re not too far away from change.

 

I bless you all with a wonderful, fruitful, adventure-filled year!

 

 

 

Trust  Jesus!

Giving Birth To Faith

Sequence of seed germination on green background

 

My children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve grown to learn that it’s more often possible to have all the right information sitting plainly in front of us, just like the faithful stars are ever present in the sky each night – whether we can see them or not – and yet still have no real insight on how to logically connect each one to see the greater picture that exists in plain sight, hidden in the beauty of their design.

 

Author Richard Wurmbrand takes the liberty of connecting the dots for you and I so that we, along with our brothers and sisters of the Underground Church, may marvel along at the Majesty and Excellency of the wisdom of God and all that bears witness to His awesome Name!

 


 

 

If you were invited to a feast with all kinds of good meats, would you believe that there has been no one to cook them?

 

But nature is a banquet prepared for us!

 

You have tomatoes and peaches and apples and milk and honey. Who has prepared all these things for mankind?

 

Nature is blind. If you believe in no God, how can you explain that blind nature succeeded in preparing just the things we need in such plenitude and variety?

 

They prove that eternal life exists. I heard one [believer] pleading with an atheist: “suppose that we could speak with an embryo in his mother’s womb and that you would tell him that the embryonic life is only a short one after which follows a real, long life. What would the embryo answer? He would say just what the atheist answer to us when we speak to them about paradise and hell.

 

He would say that the life in the mothers womb is the only one and that everything else is religious foolishness.

 

But if the embryo could think, he would say to himself, ‘Here arms grow on me. I do not need them. I cannot even stretch them. Why do they grow? Perhaps they grow for a future stage of my existence, in which I will have to work with them.

 

Legs grow, but I have to keep them bent toward my chest. Why do they grow? Probably life in a large world follows, where I will have to walk.

 

Eyes grow, although I am surrounded by perfect darkness and don’t need them. Why do I have eyes? Probably a world with light and colors will follow.'”

 

“So, if the embryo would reflect on his own development, he would know that a life exists outside of his mother’s womb, without having seen it.

 

It is the same for us.

 

As long as we’re young, we have vigor, but no mind to use it properly. When, with the years, we have grown in knowledge and wisdom, the hearse waits to take us to the grave.

 

Why was it necessary to grow in a knowledge and wisdom we can use no more? Why do arms, legs, and eyes grow on an embryo?

 

It is for what follows.

 

So it is with us here.

 

We grow in experience, knowledge, and wisdom for what follows. We are prepared to serve on a higher level that follows death.”
– Excerpt taken from ‘Tortured for Christ’

 


 

 

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘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.”

 

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

 

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

 

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.”
Revelation 21:1-8

 

 

If you’re willing to consider and connect the dots, it’s all to clear to see why all of creation declares it, and why I continually implore you,

 

 

 

Trust  Jesus!