The Jungle Whack Blessing

 

The Jennifer and Mark Morris family with Silas and Liana from the jungles of Pucallpa Peru

The Jennifer and Mark Morris family with Silas and Liana from the jungles of Pucallpa Peru

             My friend Jennifer Harris Morris was in town this summer from her mission station in Pucallpa Peru. She has started over 35 churches in 16 years. It’s an amazing story of what one woman can do devoted to God’s purposes. Their Jungle Ministry funds Micro Enterprises, conducts Animal Husbandry projects, provides social services, educates satellite churches, organizes a Bible Institute, operates Emmanuel Farm, and supports Youth Scholarship Programs for 40 students to get a vocational training. For more information, check out Mark and Jen’s Jungle Ministry

                At the end of the time where our two families spent time with one another in California, we took time to pray before leaving. Jen prayed for me a blessing she had had prayed over her in her first few years of missionary work.

                “I bless you with the Jungle Whack Blessing. You feel like you’re in a jungle and you can’t see where you’re going. But each day you move forward using the machete to cut a few more feet forward. As you look back, you can see you are leaving a path. You keep whacking away at the jungle until you reach the clearing or the water. Each day is progress, even if you can’t see it. You are moving forward and creating a path through the jungle. I bless the work of your hands each day you work.”

                This captured exactly how I was feeling about working on five projects at once and not feeling that any of them were progressing toward completion. Jen had listened, and lended her outsiders’ perspective to my world, and shared a blessing that had brought her victory.

This blessing sustained me. It was exactly what I needed to keep whacking away each day! Thank you Lord for friends who can hear and understand and know exactly how to pray.

 

For More Information on Mark and Jen’s Jungle Ministry, click here to visit their web site, Mary and Jen’s Jungle Ministry.  


Broken Spirits Become Stronger Saints

God Makes Art from our Broken Pots. Photo:  https://www.pinterest.com/pengiunv/broken-pots/

God Makes Art from our Broken Pots. Photo:
https://www.pinterest.com/pengiunv/broken-pots/

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Psalm 51:17 ESV

Salvation starts with our broken spirit over our sin before a holy God.  We know we need Jesus’s blood appropriated to our sins.  We ask. We receive.  And we start a whole new life as a Christian.

We soon learn salvation is the start point for the ongoing part of sanctification.  A broken spirit before God is not a one-time experience.  We see another part of ourselves that doesn’t line up with God’s purposes and we repent over this newly revealed sin or sin pattern.  We ask God to break this sin off of us.  He does and then we progress forward in our walk.  All the while, God is breaking us from sins and sin patterns.  What starts to emerge is the person God is shaping.  We increasingly align with His ways.  Then we align with His purposes.  We become the person God can use in the destiny He has ordained for us from the beginning of time.

 

There is such a thing as the breaker anointing.  We want this when we need to break through into a new pattern, or a new season, or a new path for our lives.  Often we see that God has been breaking things off, or in, a person for this new step forward.

 

I come from a very self-driven and self-motivated operational style point.  People use these terms on resumes.  I operated like this before I even knew the term.  Sometimes, my fellow high school students failed to do their part in group projects. So I decided to do the extra work to get the “A.”  I really wanted the grade, so I wasn’t going to depend on mediocrity.  If people couldn’t be relied upon to transport me to practice when I needed to be there, I found other ways to arrange to be there.  In the business world, I would get projects done that other people said couldn’t happen.  They were surpised. Yet, the projects happened.

This all worked well for me until the Lord started to break this independent spirit.  He calls us into unity.  He calls us into relationship with other people.  I was surprised to learn that it wasn’t always about the merits of the project.  It started to be about the people on the project.  It was my time to learn to work with all types of people.  I had to learn how to be vulnerable when it hadn’t been safe to be so in the past. They had to work with me and my flaws.  I had to learn how to trust different styles and personalities.  My attitudes and style points started to crack open.  I had to learn how to work with many various strengths and weaknesses. This took more time.  It took more energy.  It took new communication skills. I learned the importance of spoken and unspoken dialogues to get a team on board with common objectives.  I had to learn how to develop honor for all people.  I had to learn how to prioritize differently and accommodate for people’s life issues.  The goals for projects included people dimensions I had never bothered to consider before.

Part of this is maturity and growing up.  True.  But part of this is breaking my spirit to care and work with all kinds of people. The Lord and I had a side dialogue going on concurrently.  He pointed out spiritual truths from scriptures that He would show me at just the right time in my devotions. Or I would tune into nuggets from sermons I just happened to hear.  God was making me a stronger saint by breaking my independent spirit.  I learned that God’s plan is to make us better together.

As we break bread together, and wash it down with the wine of communion, it might be a time to ask God what He wants to break in us.  As this breaks off, we wash it with the cleansing blood of forgiveness and sanctification. Communion is that time to allow God to do the work He wants to do in us.

What does God want to break in me to move forward as a stronger saint?


Celebrating the New Covenant with Communion

The Communion Cup represents the New Covenant.  Photo courtesy of www.bobcornwall.com

The Communion Cup represents the New Covenant. Photo courtesy of www.bobcornwall.com

“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”  Luke 22:20

We take the cup of Communion celebrating the new covenant.  The old covenant takes us to the letter of the law brought by Moses from Mt. Sinai.  That glory dimmed before Moses made it down from the mountain and saw the people breaking the law.  Jesus ushered in the new covenant through becoming our sacrifice for failing to meet the terms of the old covenant.  The law of God still stands, but we get to stand behind Jesus who fulfilled the law.  His righteousness is what God sees when He looks at us. Further, God’s law is written in our minds and in our hearts.  The glory of Pentecost ushered in the Holy Spirit who became our guarantee of the new covenant, our seal.  “You were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”  Ephesians 1:13 NIV. The Holy Spirit comes and fills us with love, liberty and a new heart that loves the law.  The new cry in our hearts says, “I delight to do Your will, O my God.”  Psalm 40:8.  Truly “He takes away the first covenant and establishes the second.”  Hebrews 10:9.  Another way to look at it is that He takes away “the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones” (2 Corinthians 3:7) and establishes a new “ministry of righteousness.”  2 Corinthians 3:9. This new life is life in the Spirit.  The old covenant is passing away (v. 11) and the new covenant lives in us.  So, taking communion embraces and rejoices in the new covenant.  Each time we take communion we embrace a new depth of the covenant.

 

 


Celebrating Communion – Broken in Battle

"Take and Eat. This is My Body Broken for You." Mark 14:22

“Take and Eat. This is My Body Broken for You.” Mark 14:22

“My body, broken in battle

So you could be victorious

Live in the land of freedom”

People in revolutionary war died in battle so I could live in the free land of America.  Men died in battle so I could vote.  Yet, look at how many American citizens don’t vote in general elections.  Look at how many do not know the names of their elected representatives.

Jesus died in the battle of all good and evil on earth so we could walk in relationship with God once again.  Are we communing with God in this relationship?  Are we partaking of what the great sacrifice allows in terms of victory over the enemy?

It’s not about how great our government is currently.  It’s not about how great our churches are currently.  It’s about going back to God’s structures and systems for living.

Our forefathers had supernatural strength beyond their human wisdom to write the constitution. Denominational church fathers created structures for our church institutions that went beyond what they were envisioning for their immediate concerns. This is what happens when we ask of God for His divine guidance and hand in a creative process.  Each has been undermined by the enemy in varying methods.

Yet when we go back to the good tenants and invite them back, we start to pursue God and His purposes on earth. We start to borrow everything good from other countries where they have it right.  We adopt from other church polity where they have it right.  Seeking God for the unification of all that is good…in love…to establish one body, one nation, once church.

It is doable.  Let’s pray.  Lord, teach us to walk in the fullness of victory that your son wrought for us on the cross.  Lord, teach us to walk in the fullness of freedom that our forefathers established for us in The United States of America.


Everybody is Welcome at the Communion Table

Everybody is Welcome at the Communion Table

Everybody is Welcome at the Communion Table

In church this week, we looked at what makes a church a place for people to come and be community together.  Three things stand out:

1.         Everybody is welcome.  No one is left out.  Truly everyone is welcome.

2.         Nobody’s Perfect.  So many people think that we have to be perfect to join a church.  Or if we are members, then we become perfect.  Anyone who visits a church will soon find out no church has perfect members.  We come together knowing we are not perfect and we need God to be our God.  We desire to hang our sin on the Jesus’ cross.  And we long for the revitalization of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

3.         Anything is Possible.  More specifically, Anything is possible with God.  This truth reminds us that we serve an amazing God.  He still does miracles, signs and wonder.  He is worthy of our praise.

Our church service closed with communion for the entire church.  We come to the table welcomed by Jesus, no matter who we are.  The Bible says God is not a respector of persons.  He knows us all individually and accepts us for who we are, not for what we’ve accomplished.  We come to the table with our imperfections to our perfect Savior.  We give him our sin and receive His righteousness, fresh, once again.  And we leave reminded that no matter what we are facing in our lives, All Things are Possible with God.  The visit to God’s table reminds us to of these truths and refreshes us for the week ahead.


Communion Pattern: Blessed, Broken and Given

"Take and Eat. This is My Body Broken for You." Mark 14:22

“Take and Eat. This is My Body Broken for You.” Mark 14:22

Mark 14:22 reads, “Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’”

Many of us come to the Communion table aware of our sin and needing to ask forgiveness.  We live knowing that temptations sometimes get the better of us.  We take our sins to the cross and receive his forgiveness, at the Communion table.  Some of us leave, having received forgiveness, but not quite feeling ready to fulfill our God given destiny.

Communion reminds us that God uses broken people to carry out His purposes in the world through us.  The verbs in Mark 14:22 outline the process:  Blessed, broken, and given out.  As we continually learn of God’s love, the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, we continue on our spiritual journey.  Along the way, we sin.  The journey path incorporates the steps of forgiveness, cleansing, and redemption.  The human condition keeps us breaking God’s laws and needing Jesus’ forgiveness and cleansing continually.  We repeatedly accept Jesus’ invitation to “Take and eat.”

Amazingly, God uses us people to carry His perfect message to others in our broken state. Most spiritual journeys produce mature Christians, who hopefully attain to live by God’s guidelines more and more closely.  Yet, He doesn’t wait for certain levels of performance to be usable.  He lets our stories be given out as they are.  Further, He often wants us willing to tell our story of brokenness.  The sustaining truth is that He loves people despite our sins.  He can use our stories of brokenness all along the journey path to draw people to Himself.

Jesus’ invitation to share the bread that night depicts this process all in one action.  We are blessed by God.  We are broken by sin.  And we are asked to give out our story to others.  When we partake in Communion, we are taking and eating the bread of His body given for us.   Our brokenness drives us to the table and extends Jesus’ invitation to all through our stories of broken lives where we all come to Jesus’ offer at the table:  “Take and eat, this is my Body.” His resurrected body becomes our healing.

 

 

 


What Happened on the Third Day?

On the  Third Day He Rose.  On the third Day He Created Land and Plants

On the Third Day He Rose. On the third Day He Created Land and Plants

On the third day, God created everything green that lives on the earth.  Specifically, Genesis 1 reads, “11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.”  NKJV

We also read that on the Third Day, Jesus rose.  Paul writes in I Cor 15:4, “He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”

In the story of creation (however one chooses to define “day”) God created everything green on the third day.  This includes everything that provides man with sustenance and food.  He gave life to grass and herbs that yield seen and trees that yield fruit.

Jesus also rose on the third day in resurrection power.  This is the power that conquered death. Jesus shares His victory over death with us by giving us eternal life.  We need this action point by God on the third day to give us spiritual life and power.  We need the creation action power of God on the third day to give our bodies life through the food provided by seed, herbs and fruit. Note the link that on the third day, food a nd provision for life is given to us.

Think of this the next time you celebrate Communion where we “take and eat” the body of Christ that rose again on the third day so that we might live on earth and in eternity.  On earth, God provides produce for us to eat and have our bodies nourished.  In the home of our bodies, He comes to live in us and give us eternal life through Jesus.