Saturday, April 24, 2010

Can You Say "Me Too"?

Me too.
When you're struggling,
when you are hurting,
wounded, limping, doubting,
questioning, barely hanging on,
moments away from another relapse,
and somebody can identify with you-
someone knows the temptations that are at your door,
somebody has felt the pain that you are feeling,
when someone can look you in the eyes and say, "Me too,"
and they actually mean it-
it can save you.

When you aren't judged,
or lectured,
or looked down upon,
but somebody demonstrates that they get it,
that they know what it's like,
that you aren't alone,
that's "me too."
Paul does not say, "To the strong I became strong."
He only says, "To the weak I am weak."

Rob Bell

- g-ram

Friday, April 23, 2010

How To Get Ahead

Today we have a story about the disciples looking for a little promotion at work.

Matthew 20:20-28 (New Living Translation)

20 Then the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus with her sons. She knelt respectfully to ask a favor. 21 "What is your request?" he asked.

She replied, "In your Kingdom, please let my two sons sit in places of honor next to you, one on your right and the other on your left."

22 But Jesus answered by saying to them, "You don't know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?"

"Oh yes," they replied, "we are able!"

23 Jesus told them, "You will indeed drink from my bitter cup. But I have no right to say who will sit on my right or my left. My Father has prepared those places for the ones he has chosen."

24 When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. 25 But Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."

When you think about power, think about his: God, all-powerful, comes to earth and makes His whole life--His greatest move in history--an act of service and sacrifice. I think we have a lot to learn in how we go about making ourselves great at work and in our daily lives. Try the power of serving others today.

- g-ram

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Upside Down Kingdom

When Jesus was on earth he taught us about the kingdom of Heaven. He talked about it all the time. What he told us was that it is not like the empire that we are familiar with. What we know, the way we think, the way we are told to think, ... well Jesus takes our world and flips it upside down. He continually told us that things work differently in God's kingdom. Here is just one more way:

My joy is not determined by what happens TO me But what Christ is doing IN and THROUGH me.

Live it.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

For Those Following Our Story

For those following our story:
It's about 5:30AM ... on a Saturday. Did I mention that I have children? They assist me with seeing things from a new perspective. They help me with understanding blessing.

Just wanted to give you a bit of an update on where we stand for any who are interested.

As of today I have speaking engagements booked until December. I just received another opportunity yesterday. So that is great news. That is 10 so far including a retreat. Opportunities are coming and that is fantastic.

We also have some upcoming responsiblities: new tires for the truck, new contact lenses, dental visits (especially for the kids), nothing too huge or anything.

We remain well certainly mentally, emotionally & physically. We remain far beyond well as we rehearse the blessings that we have received in support, love, encouragement and finances. To you all: thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Truly you are the hands, mouths and feet of Jesus to us. Is there anything better than clearly being enveloped in the huge arms of God's provision?

- g-ram

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Spirit & The People Of God

To be the people of God there is distinct and definite need for the presence, work and transformation that only appears through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. To be the people of God this must be true: the Spirit must be at work in us. So, when we gather in His name, as does the Church, it is possible to gather without really having the presence of God. We have seen this in the Church and it helps to explain the lack of impact that many churches suffer through. They have a form of godliness but they are denying its power.

The work of Holy Spirit is not optional for the disciple of Jesus. Paul sees the Spirit as essential to any hope of living this thing out. The Spirit at work in us is our direct link to God for power, direction, desire, intuition, holiness, insight and hope. The Spirit is what aids us in clearing the mixed messages we will receive between the old self, or the flesh, and new self, or the spirit. The work of the Spirit is not so much about a function, but about all function.

The mystery of what the Holy Spirit does is an internal work; changes that occur under the surface. The Spirit will, in fact, change the internal desires and thought processes in a disciple moving them from darkness to light.

The internal work is key, however it does not stop there. The Holy Spirit has an even greater emphasis on external work. That is to say, the manifestations of the Holy Spirit are predominantly external. The transformation inside is incomplete without the external manifestation. A new mind that is righteous and true is important but not enough, it must be lived out visibly. You know Christ when you obey. Faith in action is always the drive. Contemplation and discovery is important but community focused living displays the real work of the Holy Spirit. Not for ourselves alone do we enjoy the presence and work of the Spirit. It is for the mutual benefit and building up of the community of faith.

So out of this need to build the body of Christ we have been graciously given the gifts of the Spirit. These spiritual blessings have been provided for us to aid in the life of the spirit, the pursuit of God, the development of holiness and the edification of the people of God.

Unity within the community of faith is an example of the work of the Spirit. This is not so much because we want it or just because we work at it. Unity is a gift that grows in a community in much the same way the fruit of the spirit grow in an individual. We do not long for or seek after unity, we long for and seek after God and the Spirit grows amongst us unity. Once the unity is tasted and evident it empowers the Church, both individuals and the collective body, to have spiritual impact and restart the process in the lives of new believers.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Practical Athiest 04: I Believe In God But I Don't Know Him Followup

Who is the one person that truly knows you best? Describe how your relationship with that person is unlike any other relationship in your life.

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1 John 2:3-4 (NIV)

Describe a time or situation when you knowingly disobeyed God.

What were the consequences of your actions? What did you learn from this situation?

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by
nature are not gods. But now that you know God-or rather are known by
God-how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable
principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
Galatians 4:8-9 (NIV)

Describe a time when you had an intimate experience with God. How did that experience affect your faith and relationship with Him?

Discuss some ways you believe we can become more intimate with

God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I
have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise
you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. .
Psalm 9:10 (NIV)

Some people believe in God, but don’t know Him. Some people know Him, but not well. Some know Him intimately and serve Him wholeheartedly. Discuss which of these best describes you right now and why?

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know
him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in
order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches
of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great
power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:17-19 (NIV)

The Four typical characteristics of Practical Atheists:
• Believe in God, but don’t fear him.
• Believe in God, but don’t want to go overboard.
• Believe in God, but trust in money.
• Believe in God, but don’t know Him.
Which message in this series had the most impact on you and why?

What do you sense that God is wanting to change in your relationship with Him? Are you ready to go there?
Final thought:
With your group and during your personal prayer time
this week ask God for a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. Ask Him to help you grow so your relationship with Him will become intimate beyond anything you could ever imagine.

For Further Study

Describe what your life was like before coming to know Christ.
How was your life changed when you entered into an intimate relationship with Him?
Read Matthew 7:15-23. In this passage Jesus compares true disciples as being like trees that bear fruit.
Against whom did Jesus warn us? Why? (7:15)
What do false prophets look like on the outside? (7:15)
What are false prophets like inwardly? (7:15)
How did Christ say we could recognize false prophets? (7:16, 20)
What does nature reveal about a tree and its fruit? (7:16)
What kind of fruit do good trees bear? Why? (7:17-18)
What type of produce grows on bad trees? Why? (7:17-18)
What happens to trees that fail to produce good fruit? (7:18)
Who will enter the kingdom of heaven? (7:21)
How will some people try to talk their way into heaven? (7:22)
What credentials or accomplishments will some people claim? (7:22)
How will Jesus respond to these impostors? (7:23)
What is necessary for entry into heaven? (7:23)
Why do you think we continue to sin if we have Christ in our heart and the Holy Spirit in our lives?
What does this passage tell us about the importance of doing good works?
How do good works and salvation fit together?
How can people be "religious" yet not follow Christ?
What kind of good works have you been working to produce lately?
What evidence in your life points others to your relationship with Jesus?
What are some specific things you can do this week that will help you allow God to cultivate a deeper relationship with you?
In what area of your life right now do you have the greatest opportunity to increase your good works?


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fear Conformity

Never fear criticism. It's going to come. Some of it might very well be true. Some of it might be made of misunderstandings. Some of it might be the fear of others directed towards you. Stand up and you will be marked. But we are called to stand firm.
Stand firm then...

Fear conformity, which stunts the soul. You can't excel; you can't develop; you can't imagine, when fear of being different overwhelms you. Dreams take you outside of conformity. Conformity is not the opposite of rebellion. Conformity is killing the dream, silencing the imagination, crushing the call.

You can't have everyone’s approval & God’s anointing at same time.

Stand firm then. Grow into who you were called to be. Why would you think that you weren't called to stand out and stand up to make a difference?

Don't Give Up.

- g-ram

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Rising Tide of Female Infidelity

Toronto Star Article
Female newlyweds flock to join cheaters club

April 7, 2010 00:04:00
Nicole Baute
Susan first dipped her toe into the murky cyberpool of infidelity two years ago, when she was bored at home on a day off from her part-time fitness job. Her husband, a business executive seven years her senior, was working, as usual.

Sexually frustrated and a little lonely, the 25-year-old started Googling “sex club” and “swingers club” before stumbling upon, advertised as a “discreet dating service” for people in relationships. Like most Torontonians, Susan, who did not want her real name used, heard about it before.

Three months and more than a 1,000 profiles later, she sat at the bar at a Hooters restaurant with Michael, a 23-year-old with a 31-year-old wife. “He understood where I was coming from and we had the same expectations,” she says. After about two hours, they got a hotel room.

That was what she was really looking for.

According to Ashley Madison statistics, the number of Toronto-area female newlyweds on their site has skyrocketed in the past year. In March 2009, there were 3,184 women who had been married for three years or less actively using the service. A year later, there were 12,442.

Since he founded the service in 2001, it was clear to CEO Noel Biderman that attracting men would be easy. But he and his team thought their female clients would be desperate housewives or dedicated mistresses looking for “lifestyles and fun and sex and gifts.” They deliberately targeted women with everything from the name of the brand to the colour scheme of its advertising was designed to attract aspiring female cheaters.

They soon realized they had overlooked a robust and active demographic: “These were young women who, from their self-description ... were only married a year or two and seemed to really be questioning the institution, their next step, entering into parenthood, staying with that partner,” Biderman says.

They called it their “newlywed marketplace.”

So much for those happy early years — the seven-year itch has shrunk to three or four and wives, not just husbands, are increasingly stepping up and sneaking out.

Infidelity is tricky for researchers to quantify because surveys largely rely on self-reporting, and people are inclined to lie according to the medium (online, on the phone or in person). And there is no one definition for infidelity — sometimes emotional and online affairs, and committed couples who are not married are included, other times not.

“There’s an overall increase in female infidelity in general,” says Ruth Houston, a New York-based infidelity expert. Houston’s research began more than 16 years ago, after she unintentionally recorded her husband’s phone conversations with three other women while working as a journalist from their home.

Houston is convinced we’re “in the midst of an infidelity epidemic” and goes by the often-cited stat that infidelity by women has increased by 50 per cent in the last 10 years. But the U.S. National Opinion Research Center report on American Sexual Behaviour offers much smaller figures: In 2004, 20.5 per cent of men and 11.7 per cent of women admitted to cheating on their spouses, a change from 21.3 and 10 per cent in 1991.

Houston believes these numbers are deceptively low and that women are definitely catching up to men. She says today’s women are much more exposed to possible partners than their mothers and grandmothers. They’re out working and on the Internet, the top two places to cook up an affair.

“I just think that women are stronger and coming into themselves and following their own path,” says Toronto relationship therapist Nancy Ross. She says infidelity is often what brings couples to seek therapy and that, increasingly, men are initiating therapy.

Biderman thinks female newlyweds are looking for more than a fling — that many of them are sizing up their husbands and questioning whether they really want to start a family with him. And, in a pragmatic move not unlike job hunting, they might even want to line up a new partner before leaving their current one.

“As more and more people get married later and later in life, does it really surprise you that a 30-year-old woman who just got married a year or two ago, but has a very robust career and is very independent, is really going to tolerate the same kind of failed expectations that someone two generations removed from her (did)?” he asks.

Or maybe it’s the digital era that is making young people so eager to move on, Biderman says. After all, past and future lovers are all just a mouse click away.

Susan, now 27, says she loves her husband and does not plan to leave him. More than that, she’s convinced Ashley Madison has helped her marriage: she’s made many friends who understand her, both male and female, and she’s now had four very satisfying affairs.

“I come home smiling after and I’m just fulfilled, which kind of cuts up my resentment toward my husband, because I just feel better — physically, emotionally, everything.”


Business is booming for Ashley Madison

Ashley Madison membership is growing madly, which founder Noel Biderman ties, at least in part, to the economy.

“Martial discord is very closely tied to economic issues,” Biderman says. “If you’re having challenges around your family finances, it’s really hard to all of a sudden turn on the intimacy dial and go upstairs and make passionate love to one another.”

Membership figures as of March 2010:

In the GTA:

159,611 members (up from 82,959 a year ago)

111,202 male

48,409 female

All of Canada, U.S., U.K. and Australia

5,410,347 members (up from 2,802,664 a year ago)

3,898,468 male

1,511,879 female

- g-ram