Thursday, May 20, 2010
This past Saturday was fall number four. We were already a good deal into our trip when my phone started ringing. On the open road, answering the phone was no big deal. But on this new bike with all of the challenges that an uneven surface poses, I was not too sure about answering the phone. After a few seconds of indecision, I reached for the phone in the back pocket of my shirt… (unfortunately mountain biking does not leave as much room for error as cycling does) and as soon as I got the phone out of its place of safe keeping, I embraced Mother Earth yet again with one big thud!
After finishing our ride and taking a good long shower, I was reminded of a story in Matthew 14. This is the story about Jesus’ disciples being in a boat on a stormy sea. Whilst the storm raged on, Jesus came walking to them on the water! Peter asked to join Jesus on the water and Jesus invited him out of the boat and onto the water. Lo and behold, Peter walked on the water, just like Jesus! Unfortunately he became aware of the water and the waves… and he sank like a rock.
You and I can learn so much from this story… When Peter stepped out of the boat, his focus was nowhere else, but on Jesus. It was only when his focus shifted to the natural circumstances that he started sinking. You see, you and I are invited by Jesus to join Him in a Spiritual Walk where anything is possible, even walking on water. The only requirement to enjoy this walk is to keep our eyes focused on Jesus. The moment we become more aware of our natural lives than we are of Him, we are sucked in by that which we look at.
Don’t worry, this is not another law to keep or another human effort. You can focus on Jesus, because He enables you to do so. He is the True Vine, and you are the branches. God the Father placed you in Christ, so that you can become what He has designed you to be, even before the foundations of the earth were laid.
Hebrews 13:20-21 Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), (21) Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it).
May you realize that God is for you, loves you and wants you to really experience a fulfilling live, a satisfied life, an awesome life! Be blessed!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
During this adventurous process of determining and sorting through my priorities, I’ve been struck by precisely how important this blog is to me. The things I share with you on this blog are the things that have changed my life forever. I am passionate about sharing with you who Christ is! Christ is the answer to the question, no matter what that question may be. Therefore, I will continue writing whatever God has laid upon my heart to share.
In Luke 10 Jesus is visiting with his friends Mary and Martha. Martha is cooking up a storm in the kitchen whilst Mary is sitting with Jesus and enjoying His good company. Martha then comes and complains to Jesus that her sister (Mary) is being lazy and asks Him to reprimand her. But Jesus responds contrary to what Martha was expecting; He said that Mary had chosen the good/better portion. But what is really interesting about this portion, is that the Amplified Bible says the following: “But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me [to lend a hand and do her part along with me]!”
According the original Greek intent of this verse, Martha was actually distracted by her tasks, in actual fact the word used here is: serving. Martha was distracted by her serving! Now, didn’t we grow up with the idea that serving is a spiritual thing? Isn’t it true that what we do for God is always spiritual? Well, not according to Jesus. Martha was serving for Jesus and He said that Mary actually chose the good portion!
“But the Lord answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Jesus is saying that it is more beneficial for us to receive from Him, than to serve for Him. Jesus doesn’t need our service, but we, in turn, do need that which He has to offer:
1John 4:9 In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him.
Christ offers his love, peace, prosperity and joy – His offer on the table: To be your life. To live and move within us so that nothing in this world will ever again depend on our own performance, but will always entirely depend on his finished work.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
On the home front: Mariette and I did the Ride for Sight race some weeks ago. We enjoyed the new challenge and scenery, we also completed the race within a competitive time. Our eldest (Ivan) is still at Varsity and enjoying the student life, his thumb is healing well and the cricket season is drawing to an end; we’re thinking about accepting and offer for him to go play Club Cricket in England for five months. We’re really praying about this. Stephen is still enjoying life as ‘a salary earning man’; just the other day he joked about how much time he used to have for ‘whatever’ while still at school, now time has suddenly become a precious commodity. However, he still finds time for his drums and guitar and is improving as a musician on a daily basis. Our youngest (Warren) has recovered well from his injury and is doing extremely well in the high jump this year. Warren competed (in an age group above him) in our Provincial athletics last week and qualified to take part at the Nationals in two weeks’ time. You can just image our pride!
In our congregation, we are experiencing growth on all fronts and are so excited about what God is doing! Every day is a new day and we are seeing more, growing more in understanding and all round being transformed from one degree of glory to another. God is great!
To conclude our Pursuit of Truth; we will spend some time in the concept of sitting. Just to recap: the first chapters of Ephesians mentions us as seated with Christ in the heavenlies. In further chapters Paul talks about our Christian walk, i.e., living the Christian life; he paints a picture about what this life is all about and how it looks. Paul said that we should walk in His Rest; this rest being an understanding of what God had finished in Christ. This Rest implies a life lived not in our own strength, but a life lived from Christ as our source and centre. If you would like more info on this, feel free to mail me your questions – I’d be happy to chat about some more of this in detail.
Now we will spend some time on the last concept Paul introduces in the final chapter of Ephesians. Paul said that we should STAND. Countless sermons have been prepared on this one word, and from just as many perspectives. I would like, today, to put it into perspective; with the whole of Ephesians as our backdrop. You see, these concepts do not function independently from one another, there’s a definite chronological order to them and they are an inseparable unit! This you can only see when we look at Ephesians holistically. We are seated, therefore we will have a certain walk… We are seated, therefore we STAND. To separate these from one another will leave us with a watered down Gospel.
Ephesians 6:10-13 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. (11) Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (12) For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (13) Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.
In the holistic message, we cannot wrestle or stand if we’re not seated. What does seated mean again? We understand that everything (even me and all my shortcomings) was nailed to the cross in Christ, I now am the righteousness of God because I am in Christ (John 12:32, 1 Cor 1:30). Are you getting the hang of this yet? When can I stand unwaveringly before Evil? When do I triumph unequivocally against the Powers of Darkness? WHEN I AM SEATED IN CHRIST!! Nothing can be done in my own strength.
Ephesians 1:17-19 [For I always pray to] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, (18) By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), (19) And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength.
Ephesians 3:16 May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].
It is true that God never leaves us nor forsakes us because when we stand, we do not stand next to Him, or even behind Him, we stand in Him! How many times have we thought that our stand depended on ourselves? Have I prayed, fasted or done enough in order to be able to stand? NO, NO, NO!! Our standing depends on one thing and one thing only: are we in Christ’s Rest? And another thing: since when does stand imply attack? “Stand” involves ‘to hold your ground’. Why do you think this would be? Why are we not told to attack when Evil approaches? It’s simple: Christ already won the battle. To attack implies a taking/taking back of something which does not belong to one self. But, to stand implies a holding fast to what is already one’s own.
1John 4:4 Little children, you are of God [you belong to Him] and have [already] defeated and overcome them [the agents of the antichrist], because He Who lives in you is greater (mightier) than he who is in the world.
Think on this and I will discuss more on this topic next time. One thing is very clear: God really loves us! Stop trying, and just receive what He has already given you!
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
On the home-front it’s going exceptionally well. Since my wife and I will no longer take part in the Cape Town Argus this year and have decided to enter the races closer to home, we’ve entered the ‘Ride for Sight’ race which will take place on 21 February 2010. It’s a 116km race and since this will be our first time doing it, we’re quite excited about it and looking forward to the new experience! Especially since the race is in aid of the awareness of the loss of sight.
Our three boys are also doing just fine. Ivan has already bowled two games with his broken thumb and all, and is playing amazingly well! His Varsity classes have started and he’s more impressed with all the pretty girls than his new lecturers! Stephen received his first salary as a salesman at our local Golf Pro Shop and (as you all can imagine) is very impressed with himself. Oh, those were the days! Do you remember your first salary – there were no boundaries – in our own eyes, we were stinking rich! Our youngest, Warren Jr., tore his hamstring muscle during his High School orientation and we’re working on having him ready for the first qualifying athletics event in two weeks’ time. This year he started out very promising and we believe that this temporary set-back will work together for the good!
We are very excited about the ministry and our fellowship, I believe that this year is going to be, no, has already started to be the breakthrough year we have all been waiting for so patiently! There’s also much progress in the department of our builing project and it’s become more clear, as the time passes, why we needed to wait until now. God is so awesome! Our heart’s desire is to make a difference in our community; we want people to see and understand the Truth and allow Christ to truly set them free! We dream about transformed lives; people who are healthy in spirit, soul and body. Without wanting to sound religious or over-spiritual, we understand that the only way to really be free and experience life in abundance is through:
John 8:32 And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.
John 8:36 So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.
Just to re-cap what we’ve learnt earlier in our Pursuit of Truth; we’ve seen that the first three chapters of Ephesians is a revelation of our position in Christ. It states that we are seated. We live and move and have our being from this place and this place alone: a place of Rest, His Rest.
The next couple of chapters talk about our walk in this world. Because we are not OF this world, but merely IN it, our walk will be different from that of this world. In the past, we trusted the Law to define this walk, even though our Christian walk is one of faith and not one of law. When we refer to law, we are saying that our walk depends on our own ability and strength to fulfil God’s requirements, whereas Christ came to fulfil this law and gave us a new way of walk; namely in the Spirit. Unfortunately, because we have our law glasses on, we tend to read even the New Testament as a set of rules and regulations that constitute our manual for ‘Le Christian Life’. In this case, we find ourselves, time-and-again at the place of failure; failure to be a good Christian and in be ambassadors for the Kingdom! Ah, when will we learn not to lean on our own insights?!
Ephesians 4:1 AMP I THEREFORE, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to and beg you to walk (lead a life) worthy of the [divine] calling to which you have been called [with behaviour that is a credit to the summons to God's service,
Ephesians 5:8 AMP For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light].
Yes, yes, I know… So what now? Practically, how do I live as Children of Light? Do you remember the first couple of chapters of Ephesians? It explained the how! It is when we read Scripture as bits-and-pieces, and not as a whole, that we tend to become confused. The first chapters of Ephesians said: SIT!! So, how will we ever be able to walk a life worthy of the divine calling to which we have been called? By walking in the Rest of God. By living from the place where I see and understand that, I am in Him who is perfection, who is Light. The power of this life lies not within our own strength or sacrifices, it lies within Christ! We are seated in heavenly places, because He is seated in heavenly places and therefore our vantage point is not that of the natural (the flesh, doing right or wrong), but of the Spiritual (that which is Godly inspired and Holy Spirit directed). Therefore, those who sit are those who can walk.
Phillipians 2:13 AMP [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.
We are FOREVER seated in Christ and are constantly walking the Christian walk in the world!
Should you have any questions concerning this principle, please leave a comment or send me and e-mail. I’d love to share with you the precious gems there are in the ‘Christ-life’. Also look me up on Facebook and Twitter under WarrenGraham.
In my next post we will continue on our Pursuit of Truth and remember: In Christ, you are completely forgiven of all sin, you are blessed with all heavenly blessings, you are greatly favoured, and you are unconditionally loved by God! Yes you!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I am so impressed with myself; right through this holiday season I’ve stuck to my training program! We were diligently training for the Argus Cycle Race (the biggest of it’s kind in South Africa) in March 2010, unfortunately our electronic entry forms never reached the organisers. Therefore, we decided to skip Cape Town this year and focus on races closer to home. I strongly believe in a healthy lifestyle and for each one of us there is a specific way in which we can become and stay healthy. For us, Cycling and eating the correct foods is our way of enjoying the physical part of life.
Closer to home, we’re experiencing some exciting things. Our youngest son (Warren) started with High School (Grade 8) this year, our middle son (Stephen) brought back home very impressive Matric results and is taking a ‘gap year’ – working at a Golf Pro Shop. He’s continuing his drumming lessons and is very excited about things for this year. Ivan, our eldest started his first year at Varsity, studying B.Comm Financial Management. He’s still playing cricket for his club in the Premier League in Pretoria. Unfortunately he broke his thumb a week ago at a practice session, but soon he will be playing again.
During December we had such an awesome time in the Word of God, the Holy Spirit showed us some awesome things, which I would like to share with you over the coming weeks together with the rest of "In Pursuit of Truth".
This is the time of becoming aware of God's love for you, and I’m serious!! I have shared this with a number of people and they respond in the most peculiar way; as if they had known this all along, but when we really get down to the detail of it – they start to experience the Father’s Love like never before. So, you ain’t see nothing yet guys!! Once you truly understand the Father’s Love for you, you will not, you can not be the same ever again. My prayer for you is the same prayer that Paul had for the Ephesian Church:
Ephesians 3:18-19 "That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; (19) [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [ may have the richest measure of the Divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!"
May this year be the one you have been waiting for your whole life. The year in which you will come to see and understand the meaning of His love, and the practical outflow of that love in your daily life! I pray that you would come to the place of really knowing and understanding what Life is all about, without looking to people or any other distracting thing anymore, but looking to Him, Who is all and in all!
Thursday, November 26, 2009
When we are reborn in Christ and become reborn in Spirit, where do we start? We understand that our way of life has changed, because we’ve changed. The tough question is; where do we start? Nine times out of ten we tend to start at the middle or worse even, at the end. Scripture gives us a good idea of what we should look like and how we should behave as reborn Christians, therefore we practice hard at these desired qualities – and start in the middle. You see, just like our race the other day, our Christian lives have a start, middle and end. You can’t start at the middle, because you need to see, experience and learn some things from the start first. These things will enable you to do what your supposed to do when you come to the middle and end. Does that make sense?
Imagine a 10 month old baby trying to run… how funny would that be?! It’s ridiculous to expect anything more than him/her to crawl or perhaps walk at this stage of their growth and development. A baby needs to crawl before he/she can walk and walk before he/she can run. The same principle applies to our Christian lives; we cannot start out with running – we need to crawl and walk first.
When we read the New Testament Epistles, we need to apply the same principle. There is a first, middle and final part to it. In order to understand (and apply) the middle and final part, we need to comprehend the first part (and apply it). If we don’t read Paul’s letters in this way, we will never really grasp the meaning of what he wrote. Let’s have a look at what Paul did in the book of Ephesians:
Ephesians 1:1-4 (1) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints that are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus: (2) Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ: (4) even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love:
God has blessed (past tense) you and me with all the spiritual blessings in the Heavenly Places in Christ. We need to see that we are spiritual beings with a human experience and not the other way round; we are created in the image of God and he has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. Paul then goes on:
Ephesians 1:17-21 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; (18) having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) and what the exceeding greatness of his power to us- who believe, according to that working of the strength of his might (20) which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and made him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, (21) far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
Christ is sitting at the Father’s right hand in the heavenly places; the place where (Ephesians 1:3) the blessings are poured out. Then Paul goes on to include man’s history in Chapter 2, when he declares:
Ephesians 2:5-6 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), (6) and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus:
Take note: God raised us up with Christ and we are seated with him in the place where we (have already) receive(d) all spiritual blessings. You see, our dilemma starts when we understand that we should resemble Christ in our words and thoughts – and then go out to fake it (we try to be different, but we just can’t keep it up, then we end up faking it anyway). We’re starting at the middle! Paul is trying to tell us (in Ephesians chapter 1 and 2) that we’re supposed to SIT first. We need to see that Christ did everything that our Holy and Righteous God expected as an offering for sin – we may now receive His gift and SIT with Him (the WORK is done). We are unconditionally accepted – no walking or working could ever change that. Isn’t it interesting to note that Adam’s (the first man) first day on earth, was the day that God chose to rest? Adam didn’t contribute to God’s work after he’d been created, God had already completed everything! He was only meant to enjoy God’s work and to REST IN HIM.
Sin brought a disturbance in this way of life and God made the perfect way: Christ would do all the work (like God in the garden of Eden) necessary, so that man can exist in a state of REST in Him. Jesus spoke about this ‘work’ in John 5:17, the work that he had completed in John 19:30.
And this is the mystery of the Gospel, that God went a step further and finished the work of salvation in Christ, so that you and I can simply receive it by faith and live our lives from within His Rest (from a seated position in the Spirit). It is not a command to ‘sit down’, but an invitation to see ourselves as ‘seated’ in Christ. That is why Paul prays for the enlightenment of our spiritual eyes; so that we may see God has finished in His Son, Jesus Christ!
In the next post, we will have a look at the middle and final parts of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians and it’s significance to us. So, keep reading… J
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
On Sunday, 15 November 2009, my wife and I took part in the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Race in Johannesburg, and what a day! The weather was perfect for cycling, and the atmosphere was absolutely electric! There were 26 000 participants and getting to the starting line is an achievement all on its own! Fortunately we were there in time and we started to push our way through thousands of cyclists in order to get to our group. This year’s race was really something; I was not only doing this one at my wife’s side, but our friends’ 11 year old son (Wessel) joined us as well. I’ve mentioned him in some of my previous posts...
Me, Mariette and Wessel before the start
At the start
I had to slow down my pace in order to stay with Mariette, and Wessel had to slow down for both of us!! He could keep himself in check for only the first 25km, where after we only saw him again at the finish line. Well done Wessel! The little man actually called it the “94.7 easy”! (http://weaselattack.blogspot.com)
Mariette and I, however, continued to complete the race at a steady pace. We enjoyed the hundreds of spectators who were there to cheer us on and as the temperature kept rising closer to midday; we made sure to visit every water point with Coke, cold water and energy drinks. We finished the race without and flat wheels or mechanical difficulties, in 3 hours and 54 minutes. Even though I did this same race last year in less than 3 hours, I feel so blessed with this year’s race. The fact that I could participate was a miracle!
When we entered for the race, four months ago, I was not physically able to ride a bicycle. I couldn't keep my balance on the thing and frequently involuntarily steered off the road. Even though I couldn't stay on the bike (physically), I held on to what I understood as a Rhema word from God: through His wounds, I am healed (1 Peter 2:24). How amazing is God?! I was able to prepare for the race on the trainer at home a couple of weeks prior to the race.
Because I wasn’t as fit for this race as I was with last year’s; I had to decide on a new aim for this race – I couldn’t race for time. So, I raced WITH my wife. Because we weren’t pushing for any time window, we took everything as it came and enjoyed the sights of the city of Johannesburg. Wow. I say again: how amazing is God?! He gave Mariette and I such a special time together on those bikes. We just can’t wait to start training again for next year’s big race in March.
Here is just something I’d like to share with you, a little something special…
God created the water animals by speaking to the waters. God created the land animals by speaking to the earth. God created man, by speaking to Himself!
Genesis 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly and swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly over the earth in the open expanse of the heavens
Genesis 1:26 God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth.
And thus it came to pass that all the water animals are sustained by that which is of the water, the land animals are sustained by that which is of the earth AND man is sustained by God. And woman? Where do woman come into the picture? Well, how did she come into the picture in the first place? Woman was formed from the rib of the man… therefore; woman came from man. As a result, woman is sustained by man (her husband), from whom she was created (being close by his side – rib).
Genesis 2:22-23 (22) And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. (23) Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man.
This is such a perfect illustration of the relationship between Christ and the Church that is explained in Ephesians 5. When a man is in relationship with God (through Jesus Christ), his relationship with his wife will be what God intended it to be. When a woman moves into her role (at the side of her husband – because they are ‘one’ after all), she will be content and fulfilled.
Dear friend, don’t waste time. Enjoy the gift God had given you in your husband/wife.
In my next post we will continue in our Pursuit of Truth.