Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Talk Tuesday-What Do You Have To Offer?

One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. Acts 3:1-9 

In 2008 and 2009 I journeyed through the life changing experience of going from an extremely active person to one who was 'shut in'. As many of you know, I had two spinal surgeries to remove a tumour that begin to impinge upon my ability to walk, and could have potentially left me with a permanent disability. It was during this time of convalescing that I despondently began to wonder, 'What do I have to offer?'

Each morning I would wake up to the sound of my parents singing praises to God and offering up intercessory prayers-for the young, old, single, married, sick, and well. The Holy Spirit began to use their example to engage me in the ministry of intercessory prayer. I, who had always been too lazy, undisciplined or self-absorbed, to devote the time needed for such prayer. However, as I had suffered, it made me more sensitive to the suffering of others. As many prayed for me, it made me want to pray for others. God began to create in me the heart of an intercessor, by showing me how the intercessory prayers of others were so effective...and necessary. He slowly began to help me build a list, and gently trained me in the discipline I so lacked, enabling me to be diligent in my new calling. I confess that at times I would become frustrated, wondering if my prayers were having any impact at all, or why my list was so long!

Fast forward to 2012. I have seen many prayers answered-prayers for people whom I only casually knew, those who didn't really know me, those who never knew I was praying for them, those whom I would never personally know, and those whom I did know. I give God praise and thanks for He is the Potter- He forms the clay, and has a purpose for each one of us, regardless of our circumstances.

"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10 

So, if you ever wonder, 'What do I have to offer?', find yourself rooted in Christ, and like the branch that abides in the True Vine (John 15), you will bear much fruit, to the benefit and salvation of others. Peter confessed his lack of material wealth to the lame beggar at the temple gate, but He had the priceless gift and power of knowing Christ, which he freely shared. What about you?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Talk Tuesday-Beyond the Gold Medal

Okay, today I'm going to share something very personal, and somewhat embarrassing. I cried, and cried and still continue to cry each time I read about the story of Keshorn Walcott, the 19 yr old Javelin thrower from Trinidad and Tobago, who won the first gold medal in a sport that has been dominated by the Europeans since American Cy Young won in 1952. Keshorn is from Toco, a fishing and farming community located in the North of Trinidad. He is the country's first Olympic gold medal winner in the 'field' component of 'Track and Field'; the second gold medal winner since Hasley Crawford in 1976. Keshorn projects a very humble demeanour and seems stunned at his own win, as well as the attention it has generated. Yesterday he was greeted by thousands of fans wanting to express their gratitude for putting Trinidad and Tobago on the 'International Sporting Map'. He was rewarded with great material wealth by a government pleased with his accomplishment. I began weep as I thought of a young man who lived in humble obscurity- one who the Mighty God decided to exalt among the people. I thought of God, His Word, His power and His wisdom. Several scriptures popped into my head:

Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8 

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:12

He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. Daniel 2:21

It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. Psalm 75:7

My family is from Trinidad and Tobago. My father's family is from Toco. We have many happy childhood memories of vacations there. I always remember the humility of the people, their readiness to greet you on the streets, to gladly share the produce from their lands-I remember the friendly smiles and warm welcome upon their faces.

You see, we are all God's people-all the work of His hands. God is impartial. He is Sovereign. He is LORD. My tears express my rejoicing- that God would allow us to live, celebrate, work hard, and reap the rewards of our labour. Keshorn persevered, worked hard, and competed without the assurance that the Gold Medal would be his. We know that if we persevere, stay the course and follow Jesus to the end, the prize WILL BE OURS! So, we let the Word of God coach us:

Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

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

Onwards and upwards beyond the Gold Medal to the crown of eternal life in Christ Jesus!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Talk Tuesday - Caribana and Christ

Can you be 100% Trini (Caribbean) and christian at the same time? I was born in Trinidad and grew up all my life around Carnival and calypso. My identity was about being a 'real Trini', which meant partying, drinking and participating in Carnival. I loved my island and my culture but when I became a christian all that changed. When I made that choice to live for Jesus I gave up my old life for an new one.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

It was not easy leaving the old life...I lived in a constant 'party' mode. When I became a christian I went to a young adults meeting and the preacher said we should not go to Caribana because it was bad. The first thing I thought was, "This is my culture! How could he say that?!" Then I looked at how we used to behave and dance at fetes (parties) and at Carnival...I was ashamed.

When God saves you and changes you, you really become a new creation. I was talking to my wife the other night and I said,"I can't believe that we used to behave like that!" There is no party, no sex, no drug, no liquor that can give you the joy that Jesus gives you. God is not trying to stop you from having fun, God knows what's best for you. I am more satisfied serving the Lord than jumping up in some party. As the young adults pastor said,"there is no party like a Holy Ghost party". This weekend try Jesus.