VIDEO Glorious Ruins

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The world has some pretty amazing landmarks.

France has the Eiffel Tower. England the Big Ben. USA the Statue of Liberty. Egypt the Pyramids. Australia the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

And these are (to some degree) the face of each respective country. They are all grand sculptures. Incredible works of architecture, structurally secure, flawless pieces of work. A brilliant showcase of what mankind is capable of.

That’s what makes my hometown pretty unique. There are two things iconic of Port Willunga. A broken down jetty and a shipwreck. Not exactly the height of human achievement.

Quite the opposite.

There is a strange beauty in wreckage that has stood the test of time

The shipwreck involved the deaths of many members aboard the ship. What was made structurally secure came to a horrific ending. Likewise the jetty, once very practical and useful to the area, stands as testament of lost relevance.

And yet, these things have become something of an attraction to our area.

Hundreds of people snorkel out to the shipwreck each summer. A cafe has been named after the ship. Heaps of people get married in front of the jetty remains. Tons of people take photos of the sunset through the jetty, which regularly appears on adverts showcasing the raw beauty South Australia has to offer.

Where am I going with this.

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Perhaps the landmarks reflect us as people.

We go about our lives trying to be this ideal work of art. Presenting ourselves and striving towards this image of greatness. Qualified. Confident. Secure. Flawless.

And there’s no wondering why we do this. Society depicts through magazines and advertisements architecturally flawless people. A people structurally secure in wealth and health. Confident in qualifications and relationships. The pinnacle of mankind.

And when we compare ourselves against perceived perfection, flaws surface.

Personal struggles hit peak activity. Social awkwardness steps up a gear. Feelings of inadequacy hit hard. We fail in subjects at school or university. We are made redundant from work. We lose relationships and friendships with people we care deeply about.

All of a sudden we are comparing The Statue of Liberty against a Shipwreck.

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My Uncle posted this as his profile picture.

At first it seemed a little funny, as this is just a photo of some random old dude. We needed answers. Had Tassie really aged him this much? 

He explained. ‘There is beauty in people and our society too often covers over the faults and lines and damage in order to fit in.’

I love this. It really gets to the heart of what it takes to be a human. As much as we try to put our best foot forward, life happens. Situations in life are often very far from perfect.

Perhaps trying to hide all of our scars isn’t the answer.

Our scars tell a story. 

There’s a strange beauty in the wrinkles and sun-torn skin of a weathered individual.

My Dad once ran our Sunday School lessons. I’m slightly biased, but they were literally the most fun ever. There were two activities we all loved.

The first was the Atomic Fireball challenge. Atomic Fireballs were these extremely hot lollies. Straight out of the middle of the earth those things. The challenge was to try and keep just one in your mouth. It was intense stuff. Especially for an 8-10 year old.

This one time a certain curly haired, boisterous kid by name of Joram put about 5 in his mouth at once. I’ve had a weird sense of respect for him since that day.

Our other favourite activity was sharing our scar stories. How it worked was pretty simple. We would sit in something resembling a circle, and show our scars to the group whilst recounting the accident that created them.

Some of the stories were absolute classics. It was always a funny time. Skateboard accidents. Bike crashes. Running into closed screen doors. What once brought us to tears, we could now laugh about in front of our friends.

You see, the scar stood as testament of the healing process.

‘He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. Beaten so we could be whole. Whipped so we could be healed.’ -Isaiah 53:5

Jesus. Not some photoshopped, money motivated, perverted picture of perfection.

Perfect in every way. 

And knowing our deepest flaws, Jesus was willingly put through a ridiculously excruciating death. Whipped relentlessly, skin ripped from his back, blood loss in extreme proportions. There were scar stories all over his body.

But not just scars that told a story. Scars that rewrite a story. 

Jesus. Who by profession created new things with nail and wood, willingly submitted himself to his own instruments to make us new (2 Corinthians 5:17)By his resurrection, Jesus proved even the deepest scars of sin cannot overcome God’s kingdom.

Kingdom literally translated is King’s Dominion – just shortened. So because Jesus smashed sin and death to pieces, his dominion extends beyond death. Because Jesus lives, his kingdom endures.

And we are all given full access to His kingdom (Ephesians 2:18-19). Because in Jesus alone we find the way to truth and fullness of life (John 10:10; 14:6).

Now and beyond the grave.

Jesus rose from death with scarred hands and feet. The scars from the cross did not magically vanish, but the wounds did not hurt anymore. Rather they served as witness to his power over death.

By his wounds we are healed.

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‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus…’ – Ephesians 2:10

To be a Christ follower is crazy unique.

We don’t claim to be a Statue of Liberty. We don’t claim to be flawless people. We don’t claim to be a showcase of what mankind is capable of. In fact, we boast in the exact opposite (2 Corinthians 12:9).

We don’t claim to be without fault because we simply aren’t.

In fact, maybe you feel like your life has been an absolute shipwreck. Everything is falling into ruins. Your life has become a story of lost relevance, everything now just a shadow of your past.

But in Jesus, we do claim something amazing has been made of our ruins.

We are made new (Ephesians 2:8-10). Not made new in the absence of our wreckage, as if God turns a blind eye to all our issues. Made new in the presence of our wreckage, that stands as testament of our healing. Wear those scars with dignity.

All will marvel at our wreckage that stands the test of time.

Glorious ruins.

by Jonathan Camac

https://jonathancamac.wordpress.com/2016/10/11/glorious-ruins/

The Assigning of the Call

I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church . . . —Colossians 1:24

We take our own spiritual consecration and try to make it into a call of God, but when we get right with Him He brushes all this aside. Then He gives us a tremendous, riveting pain to fasten our attention on something that we never even dreamed could be His call for us. And for one radiant, flashing moment we see His purpose, and we say, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8).

This call has nothing to do with personal sanctification, but with being made broken bread and poured-out wine. Yet God can never make us into wine if we object to the fingers He chooses to use to crush us. We say, “If God would only use His own fingers, and make me broken bread and poured-out wine in a special way, then I wouldn’t object!” But when He uses someone we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, to crush us, then we object. Yet we must never try to choose the place of our own martyrdom. If we are ever going to be made into wine, we will have to be crushed—you cannot drink grapes. Grapes become wine only when they have been squeezed.

I wonder what finger and thumb God has been using to squeeze you? Have you been as hard as a marble and escaped? If you are not ripe yet, and if God had squeezed you anyway, the wine produced would have been remarkably bitter. To be a holy person means that the elements of our natural life experience the very presence of God as they are providentially broken in His service. We have to be placed into God and brought into agreement with Him before we can be broken bread in His hands. Stay right with God and let Him do as He likes, and you will find that He is producing the kind of bread and wine that will benefit His other children.

by Oswald Chambers

Sifted for Service

2 Chronicles 32:1-31

In one way or another, we are all being sifted by the circumstances that God allows to come our way. Sifting is never comfortable, because it exposes the chaff in our lives. And every bit of chaff is destined for unquenchable fire. The Lord will go to any lengths to uncover this debris and consume it. We rarely know where it is lurking until God exposes it and then gives us the opportunity to deal with it.

King Hezekiah was given such a chance at the pinnacle of his astonishing career. He had just witnessed the Lord bringing about a spectacular victory over Sennacherib and the Assyrian hosts. After that, God healed him from a mortal illness, and then Hezekiah was also offered a supernatural sign that actually drove the shadow 10 steps backward on the sundial. (See Isa. 38:8.)

On the heels of these miracles, emissaries from Babylon approached him with flattery. Would Hezekiah resist giving in to pride, or was he too consumed with his own importance? The sacred record reads, “In the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon … God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chron. 32:31). As a result of this test, the chaff of self-importance was revealed.

Do you ever feel abandoned by God? Worse still, do you sometimes feel as if you are being sifted by Satan? Yes, the enemy sifts, but remember that Jesus Christ is praying for you. Furthermore, the winnowing fork is in His hand, so not a hair of your head will perish (Luke 3:17; Luke 21:18).

This Generation

“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34)

This exciting prediction by Christ climaxes His great prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives. He had given His disciples the signs they had requested, then discussed the coming great tribulation and finally His glorious return in the clouds of heaven. And “all these things” were to be fulfilled before “this generation” would pass away.

And what generation would that be? Many commentators have taken it as the Jewish “race,” but that would be redundant, since many other passages had already promised that the nation of Israel would never pass away (Jeremiah 31:37-40; etc.). Furthermore, the Greek word for “generation” (genea) is never used elsewhere for any meaning but that of a particular age generation. A similar word genos sometimes means “stock” or “kind,” but never genea.

Thus, the generation which Christ was predicting probably meant the generation that would see the events He had prophesied. “When ye shall see all these things,” He said, “know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33). What are some of “these things”? World wars, accompanied and followed by “earthquakes in divers places,” as well as “famines, and pestilences” (v. 7), worldwide spread of the gospel witness (v. 14), many false Christs and false prophets (v. 24), widespread wickedness and spiritual indifference as in the days of Noah (vv. 37-39), and the budding of the fig tree, Israel (v. 32).

The word for “this” in verse 34 is the demonstrative adjective, so Christ seems to be referring to “that” generation which sees “these things begin to come to pass.” That generation will see all these things fulfilled! To that generation He says: “Lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). HMM

Satisfied with Second Violin?

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. —1 Corinthians 9:24

There was a celebrated Englishman who sat with a friend once, watching and listening to a philharmonic orchestra. As they listened, the Englishman watched a man playing second violin. He was playing it well, but he was second violin. The Englishman said to his friend, “See that man there playing second violin? If I were playing second violin in that orchestra, do you know what I would do? I would never rest day or night until I was playing first violin. And then I would never give myself rest day or night until I was directing that orchestra. When I got to be director I would never rest until I had become a composer. And when I got to composing music for the orchestra I would never give myself rest until I was the best composer in England.”

The children of the world are sometimes wiser than the children of light. We have been offered not the directorship of a great orchestra, but glory and truth unsearchable. We have been offered the face of God and the glory of Christ. We have been offered holiness and righteousness and indwelling by the Spirit. We can have our prayers answered and have hell fear us because we have a hold on God who invites us to draw on His omnipotence. We are offered all this, and yet we sit and play second violin without ambition. RRR021

Lord, don’t let me be satisfied with second fiddle. Strengthen me to run in such a way that I might be all that You want me to be, for Your glory. Amen.

Are You Child of Two Worlds?

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36)

In the kingdom of God, the surest way to lose something is to try to protect it, and the best way to keep it is to let it go. This was the word of our Lord Jesus Christ: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross!”

Christ turned from the fallen world of Adam and spoke about another world altogether, a world where Adam’s philosophy is invalid and his technique inoperative. He spoke of the kingdom of God whose laws are exactly opposite to those of the kingdom of men.

So, the true Christian is a child of two worlds. He lives among fallen men, but when he is regenerated, he is called to live according to the laws and principles that underlie the new kingdom. He may, then, find himself trying to live a heavenly life after an earthly pattern—and this is what Paul called “carnal” living. That is why it is vitally important to move up into the life of the Spirit of God. Give up your earthly “treasures” and the Lord will keep them for you unto life eternal!

Seeing that we have such a God to trust

Seeing that we have such a God to trust to, let us rest upon him with all our weight; let us resolutely drive out all unbelief, and endeavor to get rid of doubts and fears, which so much mar our comfort; since there is no excuse for fear where God is the foundation of our trust. A loving parent would be sorely grieved if his child could not trust him; and how ungenerous, how unkind is our conduct when we put so little confidence in our heavenly Father, who has never failed us, and who never will! We have been in many trials, but we have never yet been cast where we could not find in our God all that we needed.