Tag Archives: God

A Letter to Ask Your Forgiveness

Dear Native American/ First Nations Friends, and to those who do not want to call me friend,

I am writing this because I felt that God was saying this was necessary.  There are more wounds than what I will say, but these are the wounds I will address on behalf of Christians in America.

Please forgive my nation.  Forgive us for believing that our culture was superior to your own.  Forgive the Christians in this nation for forcing our culture on you and saying it was God’s way.  For not being wise enough to discern what was our culture from what was God’s way even though we had been shown grace when our peoples first became Christians—this was when the followers of Jesus had the grace to say that the new the European followers of Jesus did not have to obey all of the cultural practices of the Jewish people to worship God—that they should only have to give up and change a few things that related back to their past religions and take on a heavenly culture.  We did not say that to you.

Did we tell you there was a better culture than our own that we should all have to change to follow?  Our Great Heavenly Father’s culture and his ways?  That those ways are love?  Did we forget to say that and show that?  I am so sorry.  Did we fail to understand God’s words in Revelation where all tribes and nations were gathered before God to honor and praise him?  Do all “tribes and nations” mean that we all looked the same and sang him the same songs?  Did we fail to say you can sing your songs to Him your own way?  With your own instruments?  In your own language? In your own clothes or regalia?  I am so very sorry because I believe we have broken our own God’s heart by crushing you with our own vanity—you, a beautiful people whom he made to honor him with their own song, not ours.  Please forgive us.

We have been very unkind brothers and sisters at times.  Please know that our Father God is far, far more loving than his children have represented him to be.  Some of my nation still does not see what we need forgiveness for.  Can you forgive that too?  Can you find it in your heart to love us with a love and forgiveness as great as our God’s?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Waiting on a Sleeper to Arise

Waiting-for-a-Sleeper-to-Arise

I have been sitting, biding the time, waiting for my son to finally wake up and realize that he is hungry so that I can feed him and spend time with him.  I am longing to spend time with him–I just love to be with him.  I think that is how God waits for us.  He patiently waits for us to wake up and realize we need spiritual food from him–that we need him to feed us.  And he just loves to spend time with us, just to be with you and me.

Maureen Silveyra 10/19/2012

Leave a comment

Filed under Natural and Revelation, Uncategorized

Be Visionful

BE VISION-FUL  

“Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he”

Proverbs 29:18  21st Century King James Version

“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” 

–Proverbs 29:18  The Message

What is vision?  Vision can be seeing ahead to some future time, sometimes by imagination, sometimes by logic, and at other times vision is a God-given thing.  So much of the Bible was written down because God had given people some vision or promise of their future, the future of Israel or the future of the world.  That is what God is up to—showing us where to go and  what he is going to do–something to hold on to in the middle of the confusion of the world around us—vision for His plans.

In one of our often-told Old Testament stories, a young man of seventeen, named Joseph had a dream.  He was given a vision by God that Joseph and his brothers were binding sheaves of grain in the field when suddenly his sheave stood straight up, and his brother’s sheaves bowed down around it.  He had a second dream that the sun, moon and eleven stars were bowing down to him.  These dreams were God-given, about a future time when God would raise up Joseph to power over the nation of Egypt as well as over his brothers and family.

Joseph believed these visions, so he did not lose sight of God’s plans in the middle of the circumstances around him.  Even at the beginning, Joseph’s dreams were not based in the reality of what he saw around him.  He was one of the least of his brothers (the second youngest), and would not naturally have authority.  They were nomadic, and were not a settled people of influence.  How could his dream be true?  It was not based in the natural.

And yet he did hold on to the visions God had given.  He did not lose sight of it in the middle of the circumstances around him.  How do we know that?   Joseph did not let go of the vision he received from God, or he would not have continued to be righteous while the world set him up to fail.   Joseph’s family—those closest to him—brought his greatest opposition and his betrayal into slavery.  Then, after being sold as a slave, and working well for his new master and gaining his owner’s favor, Joseph was wrongly jailed by his this man for his master’s wife’s false accusation of rape.  If Joseph had lost sight of God’s vision, he would have given up hope and living righteously, since it had only gotten him in trouble so far, but he did not.  God does not care about people’s plans, he makes even the things meant for destruction into something he can use to bless the righteous person.  God even used what Joseph’s brothers meant for destruction to bless them through their brother!

Things do not always look like we think they should when we are in His will, but, as Romans 8:28 assures us,

“…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God fulfilled the vision he gave Joseph that one day he would rule over his brothers and parents and the land when Pharaoh, ruler of Egypt gave favor to Joseph, and made him second to Pharaoh in Egypt.   God fulfills his purposes despite how circumstances may look.  Remember Proverbs 29?

Joseph had vision and kept God’s law until the vision was fulfilled. Vision requires tenacity and godliness.

What is the vision God has given here?  We are blessed with the problem of many people who want to follow the Lord and a small building in which to do it.  What happens when we have so many capable members of the body of Christ ready to serve?  It is time to commission them to move out like the apostle Paul did, into the world, and reach even more people with the awesome love of God so that all people here can be empowered to do what the Lord has called them to do.

We can choose to stay comfortable, but that is rarely where God wants us to be.  I can think of no heroes from the Bible who made comfortable decisions.  Vision requires faith that God will do what we cannot entirely see.  There is little faith needed when we are comfortable.  The joy comes when we press into the excitement of the unknown—which can sometimes be a little scary; it is then that we get to see what God is capable of.  Rarely did God show his strength or miracles when people were comfortable…

Let us look at the apostle Paul.  It is ironic, in a way, that he is known for his visions from God, because he began having no sight of what God was doing at the time.

Paul began with knowledge of God—he was well trained in the word of God—and a zeal for God as well.  He was so zealous, that he was ready to persecute and have killed those who were following what God was doing—those who had the vision of what God was doing in that time—those following Jesus.  But Paul lacked God’s vision despite how religious he was and how well-intended were his motives.  God had to take away Paul’s physical vision when God encountered him in a blinding light on the road to Damascus, so that he could see with his spiritual eyes what God was doing.

After God gave him new vision (spiritually and physically),Paul was ready to be zealous for God’s true purposes.  This would not come easy.  God assured Ananias, the man who prayed for Paul’s vision to return, that Paul would suffer for his faith, and he certainly did.  But Paul had the joy of the vision set before him—that God wanted him to bring the good news to people who had not heard.  Seeing things through the eyes of God is so rewarding! Paul and his friends took joy even when persecuted because they could see that God was working and bringing people into the kingdom…what excitement and what a treasure!

Paul was commissioned by God to bring people into the kingdom, and then establish groups of believers who would gather together.  He would empower them to be who they were called to be, calling out their gifts God had given them, not to be used purposelessly, as they had done before, but to use them for the kingdom of God, together as a body of Christ, all different parts—different giftings that needed each other.

A church can rely too much on their pastor to do all the different jobs and make the church happen.  That is not God’s intent, however.  The pastor is to pray and give the church the heartbeat of what God is doing and pump this blood to the parts of the body that is the church (as Acts 6:4 implies as the apostles passed on work to others so that they could “give their attention to prayer and the ministry of the word,” and we, together, fulfill the vision of God by serving in the areas which God has gifted us in service, teaching, sharing, administration, the arts, etc.  When we each take part in this, we are a healthy body of Christ, and have the joy of seeing God’s vision fulfilled.

I Corinthians 12 is a chapter where Paul describes the church as the body of Christ. When we are not doing our part, the body is not healthy, because its liver is not doing its part and the left leg may be waiting for someone else to be the left leg and the person filling in that void is really an eye.  And maybe the ear is trying to be both the foot and the lungs since the foot and lungs have not stepped up to the plate.  Do what God has called YOU to do.

the people who had visions from the Lord. Israel might not have seen it themselves, but they knew the character of those who told them what God was up to.  Even Paul and Peter were given visions that the other apostles had to trust, but the apostles did so since they knew the characters of these men.  What counts is that we hold on tightly the vision God sets.

“If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.” 

–Proverbs 29:18  The Message

Jesus said “blessed are those who do not see and still believe”

Let us choose to be blessed.  You may be one who sees the vision of this church plant or you may not be seeing it with your own eyes, but only relying on those here who do see the vision.  Let us step out in faith, and trust that God is calling this body to plant a new ministry.  We may not have the vision ourselves, but we know the character of those who see it and believe it is a vision from the Lord.  When we follow the Lord in faith, it does not mean we will not have difficulty—likely we will find much opposition as both Joseph and Paul did, but it means we will see the fruit of what God is doing in a very special way, and the joy of partnering in God’s kingdom work.  Let’s keep the vision before us, because, as Proverbs 29:18 says “those who attend to what he reveals…they are most blessed.”

Let us be most blessed!

Lord, God, give us Your vision for this place, for our lives and for each other.  We release to You our love for what we know and are familiar with, to grab on to Your awesome plans.  AMEN!

1 Comment

Filed under Sermons & Talks, Thoughts on the Word of God

The High Calling of Waste Management

I heard a loud crash of metal, and looked up to find the origin of this unpleasant noise.  I scoped out my surrounding to find that there was a garbage truck, emptying the dumpster from a nearby business into the large garbage truck, but it was losing a lot of garbage as it was doing its work, and making a very big mess in the process of cleaning up the garbage of others.

A reality hit me here.  We often do the same thing with the messes in the lives of people around us.  People do things that hurt us or they live a destructive life that does harm to others.  Likely we, ourselves, have hurt others and done things that brought destruction to others lives to differing degrees…after all, that is what sin is, and we are “all sinners.”

But what happens when someone asks for forgiveness, maybe cleans up their act, gets their life straight, starts making healthy and not destructive choices?  Well, in essence, they have picked up their trash, and have put it in the dumpster, for removal.

But what happens next is what I began pondering.  Like the garbage worker, we may facilitate taking out other people’s trash–especially if we are in ministry in the church in any way.  Did you know the job as garbage disposer is an important one?  This may not seem like a great responsibility, but it is.  It is in how we deal with the garbage, that we either make a big mess out of it for others, or we neatly assist in bringing the trash to where it belongs in the first place.

I Corinthians addresses the sexual sin of one of the members of the fellowship, and essentially says that that sin needs to be “cleaned up.”  The Apostle Paul said that the church needed to “expel the immoral brother” from the fellowship.  The church was being affected by the garbage of sin within the community.  But it would seem from 2 Corinthians, that the guy at fault here actually turned his life around and was grieved by his actions when the community of believers expelled him from their company.  So he had thrown his garbage in the dumpster, finally.  This believer had put it in the right place and was ready to get rid of sin in his life.

Now comes the reaction—this is where the trash workers come in.  The community of believers did not seem to know what to do with this response.  Paul had only told them to expel the man from their lives, but didn’t give them instructions about what should happen if he turned his life around.  Now what?  Do you keep on punishing someone?  Do you bring up their sin?  Do you treat them badly because of their past?  Do we continue to ignore someone after they have made things right?  How we deal with the sins of others is so very important.  This was the point at which they would decide if they would throw the trash of another man on the ground too, and dispose of the sin badly, or if they would totally and neatly pick up his mess and take it out of the town.

Paul said that a little bit of yeast works through the whole batch.  Unforgiveness is like that, too.  If we do not forgive when someone turns their hearts back to God’s standards and back to his people, then we are the ones that have a garbage problem now, not them.  We are making a mess out of the garbage that was taken to the right place in the first place.

What should our response be?  Paul let the Corinthians know the proper response.  He said, “If anyone has caused grief…the punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him.  Now, instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.” (2 Corinthians 2: 5-8 NIV)
Love is the right response in waste management.

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Natural and Revelation, Thoughts on the Word of God

Well-Resourced

well-resoucedJesus was born into a humble situation. He was born in a shelter for animals as his family traveled to Joseph’s hometown for to pay taxes. When he grew up, his ministry was not run out of a temple as glorious as the one Solomon had built for God. Jesus had no church building or temple to call his own to shepherd his followers in. He chose to minister out of the fields, to have no home, to reach those who did not fit into the acceptable circles of the religious world. His ministry changed the lives of hundreds during his days of walking on the earth, and millions to this day.

How did he do it? He had little of monetary resources. How did he change the lives of so many?

He knew that the resources of heaven were His. His love, word and deeds changed the lives of those around him. He showed his disciples to do what he did. He lived ministry, and only needed what the Spirit could provide. We only need what he did.

Leave a comment

Filed under Stories of Encouragement, Thoughts on the Word of God

74 Cents for a Mustard Seed of Faith

I went to the ATM that morning to withdraw some money for a bagel and coffee, but was horrified to find that I had only $275.74 remaining in the account.  I had just written my rent check out for $275, which left me with 74¢ to pay for my upcoming two weeks of bills and groceries.  My heart raced, but I decided to bring it to the Lord and trust in him.  I had heard stories of his amazing provision for people in the past, and would try in my weak faith to believe he would do the same for me.

The week or two before this, I began tithing again.  I not been tithing for a while because I was in debt and figured I should pay that off first.  More recently I had realized that God had asked us for our “firstfruits,” not our leftovers, and so I would trust him to help me pay off my debt even while tithing to Him.

But now I found myself in this situation.  I recently incurred some unexpected medical and car expenses; and a company kept automatically withdrawing money from my bank account long after they kept saying that they had it stopped.  From an earthly perspective, tithing hadn’t gotten me too far!    I prayed that the Lord would somehow provide for me in this, and then went on to work to face a dismal day.

I didn’t say anything at work, but my emotions there were visible.  A coworker asked me what was going on, and I didn’t say, but she asked if it was financial and I nodded.  Another coworker took me aside and said “You know God will take care of you, right?” I nodded, attempting to have faith.  I had a long day of talking to God at work.

Later that day, I would be going to a coffee shop to lead a Bible study we had there.  Just my luck, Danny stopped in my workplace—he was a long-haired hippie-type man who was a self-proclaimed prophet of something, but not of God.  He came in and said he was going to join our Bible study that night.  He stepped out of the shop and I began to pray, “Lord, I am not able to handle him today.  Either you will need to give me your wisdom in dealing with him, or you will have to make him not come.”  Just after the prayer, he came back into the shop and suddenly changed his mind about coming to the study.  This was my first breakthrough this day.

As I left work, I found a fifty dollar bill under my coffee mug with a note that said, “for you!”  I asked my coworker if she had put it there.  She suddenly began to dig in my purse, and then said, no.  I found that behavior a little strange, but she then told me she had put some money in my purse earlier that day and had wondered if someone had taken it out and put it under the mug.  No one had taken it out—the money she had given me was still in my purse.  I went home overwhelmed with people’s generosity and God’s provision.

As I walked to the Bible study that night, I was still shaken by my financial crisis.  I prayed to God to provide me with someone who would pray for me to have the peace of God before I would have to lead the study.

I walked in and ordered my coffee, shared about God’s provision that day with the barrista whom I knew a little, and this man asked if he could pray for me.  I was so blessed God was answering everything almost as soon as I prayed.  I sat down at my table to wait for others to gather, and as I waited, I talked to God to ask him for a longer-term provision so that I would not be in such a place of crisis if I had unplanned expenses again.  A few minutes later, my roommate (who had absolutely no clue of my situation) came in and asked me to pray about if I would want to tutor her brother in reading—her parents were looking for someone to help him, and would pay for the tutoring.  I told her I had already prayed about it, it was an answer to the prayer I had prayed just minutes before.

To top it all off, another friend came into the Bible study and had decided (out of character) to buy a ton of food from McDonald’s to share.  It was the icing on the cake.  God would provide!  He did provide for me throughout the upcoming weeks in very unusual ways through people who had no clue I was in need.  Somehow, I paid all of my bills off, was able to pay back my coworkers who had given me money, and in the long-run to pay off my debt in less time than I had anticipated.  I do not think I would have seen the Lord’s amazing provision had I not been faithful to show my trust in him by tithing.  The Lord is faithful and I am so glad I now know him as my Provider!

Leave a comment

Filed under Faith, Stories of Encouragement

Where the Birds Gather

Living on the reservation had been a very difficult thing for me.  Not only did my cultural behaviors clash with the culture I found myself in, but so did my personality of vivacity, playfulness and love of deep truthful talks with friends.

I worked where the “evils” of whites where constantly preached about and were talked down about, breaking down the already fragile bonds of friendship between those friends of different races.  (Not to say that we haven’t been people who have brought great atrocities on others—but there is a point where forgiveness is necessary and the love between peoples needs to be restored). After I began to notice my racist mindset toward my own people after being constantly indoctrinated with the negative talk—likely from the desire to remove myself from the hurtful words through disassociation from my culture—I realized I needed to get a healthier perspective again.  I left the reservation for the sake of sanity.

You may not have ever had to deal with not being accepted, but it is likely that most of you have to one degree or another.  And some of you have felt rejection for who you are all of your lives.  Some of you are just going through a season of feeling rejected.  Mine had been an intensely devastating season.

I was left wondering if it was wrong that I valued what I did, that I was how I was, if my culture was so wrong, and what was the right way to do things.  About half a year after returning home, my friends swept me away to a silent retreat where we were encourage to listen and talk with Jesus in an old abbey surrounded by a beautiful nature area.  Many people stayed around the abbey, but adventurer that I am, I went cross-country and looked for a little hide-away in the field or trees.  I found a delightful pond to spend time near, and was absolutely fascinated by what I saw there.

Birds of all types and sizes were gathered in and near the little cattail-lined pond.  Redwing blackbirds sat on the cattails and would then fly off.  A hawk soared overhead, gracefully above all of the feathery activity below.  One kind of bird would playfully soar close to the water with others of its type, seagulls flew in unordered groups not so gracefully as the other birds, and ducks and geese swam around the water or would walk up on the shore.

I saw how so very different each type of bird behaved.  Some were very regal, some were very fun, and yet they all gathered by the water harmoniously.  They could act different, and it was alright—that was how God had made them to be!

Suddenly I realized that people groups all have different styles and ways of acting, and none was the right way.  If God made birds to act so very differently from each other, then people, too, were valuable as different and unique cultures with their different values and perspectives.  In a way, valuing other groups was not an awakening to me—but being alright with my own group was a great awakening to my heart.  I related to the playful birds who would flutter and skim over the water.  There was nothing wrong with a playful spirit.  The Holy Spirit would gather all types of peoples together and all would benefit by the same pool of water.

Ezekiel’s vision of the kingdom of God:

“Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows.  There will be large numbers of fish, because this water flows there and makes the salt water fresh; so where the river flows everything will live.  Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets.  The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Great Sea.”  Ezekiel 47:9-12

Every Tribe, people and tongue will be gathered at the throne of God in heaven (Revelation).  God values diversity—his love will bring all cultures and people together in Him.  And best of all, even if people don’t value me, it doesn’t mean that I am wrong by being who I am, it only means they do not understand the ways of a different type of bird—at least not yet.

Lord!  Let us love each other beyond behaviors, values, and appearance.  Let Your Holy Spirit bring peace between your people, and peace to ourselves. Help us know that our personalities are loved and valued by you no matter if anyone else values us.  But I also pray you bring us to a place where were are valued by others too.  Amen!?

Leave a comment

Filed under Natural and Revelation, Uncategorized