The mission of COUGARS Daily is for the encouraging of believers in living out their faith daily in a 'post modern' and sometimes 'Anti-Church' culture. It is also a platform for seekers to feel comfortable asking tough questions. Please welcome everyone as we comment and post daily about 'A Slice of Infinity' from RZIM as well as challenge each other to walk behind the Good Sheppard.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Behold by Amy Orr-Ewing

Take approximately 5 minutes to read yesterday's 'A Slice of Infinity' - below. Post comments to the blog for spiritual collaboration. Please email your prayer requests too.
John Chapter 6

Friends, below is yesterday's Slice of Infinity in its entirety. Typically, I will try to take out some morsel for your reading, but I found this one too good to chop up. I have been discussing miracles with a few friends and this, very poignantly, grabbed my attention. I have often heard the question asked, and asked it myself, "is God still doing the miraculous" or "why don't we see miracles like what we read of happening in the early church"? I want to encourage you that if you want to see miracles, ask God to open your eyes to them. Ask Him for spiritual gifts. Don't quit asking Him. I have seen the miraculous first hand and I am happy to share with those who would like to hear more.

Also, Danny Meece, who is a fellow Cougar, will gladly share testimonies of healing and miracles if you ask Him. Danny is a precious man with no agenda or anything to earn in sharing what he has witnessed. Please do not hesitate to ask him to share with you.

Perhaps we could start a comment thread to this post, or start a new posting section on the blog, sharing our stories of the miraculous in our lives?

May this season of Advent remind us of our messiah-who takes away the sin of the world.

With admiration,

Slice of Infinity:

What are you looking at? Where are the anchors in your life? In these uncertain times, I imagine for many of us these questions are more than rhetorical or philosophical; they are truly heartfelt.

Recently I was struck by this announcement in John’s gospel: “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’” (John 1:29). John says, “Look, the Lamb of God.” My question to you is, what are you looking at? John emphatically directs our focus: “Look at Jesus.” In fact, he makes this declaration fifteen times in his gospel. This word is translated in the King James Version as Behold. Fifteen times he exhorts his readers to look at Jesus. Will you behold? This is astonishing. This is amazing. Look at Jesus.

My favorite hymnwriter is Charles Wesley and one of my favorite of his hymns is called, “Jesus! The Name High Over All.” In the final verse of his hymn, he sings,

Happy, if with my latest breath
I may but gasp His Name,
Preach Him to all and cry in death,
“Behold, behold the Lamb!”

Now an account of John’s death tells us that that is exactly what happened. As John lay dying, he uttered those words, “Behold the Lamb,” and then went to be with the Lord. John is telling us to look at Jesus--for our hope, for our provision, for our very lives.

In his gospel he invites us to behold Jesus through the lens of seven signs or miracles. That is, John deliberately chooses seven out of the many miracles that Jesus performed in order to give us a particular perspective of who this Jesus is. And the fourth miracle that he records is Jesus’s feeding of the five thousand. Jesus himself beholds the crowd--he looks attentively at their need--and he responds with compassion and provision. We encounter a dramatic miracle: Jesus multiplies fives loaves and two fish to feed five thousand people. Then John tells us, “When they had all had enough to eat, [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” (6:12-13). What a picture of amazing abundance: the Son of God demonstrating the abundance of God to a hungry people.

Perhaps as you look at our world today you wonder if God is still at work in such a way. I want to encourage you that He is, for in my work and ministry I have seen his provision. Having been involved in Bible smuggling in China, I was intrigued to learn of a man named Chris who had gone out from the UK to do the same. Every three seconds someone in China becomes a Christian, but there’s a real lack of the Word of God there. This is what happened to Chris: he and his team stood at the pickup point in China where they were to meet their contact, who would utter a password, and they would deliver their Bibles. They arrived with only minutes to spare, but the contact didn’t show up. Knowing they were being watched, the team started walking towards the edge of town as though leaving. Hot and tired, they stopped at a nearby park for a drink of water, rest, and prayer. It was hard to understand why after all the difficulties God had brought them through that something had gone so wrong. They had looked to Him for provision and direction, and yet their mission had seemingly failed.

Soon the team became aware of three very ragged and dirty men under a tree behind them. Chris felt the Lord leading him to go over with some water. When he offered it, one of the men suddenly spoke the password very clearly in English. The rest of the team hurried over in amazement and pieced together the men’s story from the little Chinese that they knew. Two years earlier, God had given a word to these Chinese men in one of their services that they should plan for this trip. He would lead them to this park, on this date, and have Bibles ready for them, which would be brought by white men from far away. Since they were all poor farmers, it had taken a long time for them to save the money for food and shoes for the trip. The men had walked for two and a half months, mostly at night to keep from being arrested. Coming from the far north of China near Mongolia, they had climbed a range of snowcapped mountains, traveled through the desert, and crossed several rivers without a compass or any knowledge of the country. All they could explain was that God had shown them where to go.

How did they know the password? How could they speak it in English when they knew no English? How did they survive the heat and the snow without protective clothing? It could only be God.

When the men saw the Bibles, they cried and praised the Lord for a long time. They had brought cloth bags with them to carry the Bibles home, and inside each one was a small watermelon that they had carried all those miles as a gift of appreciation. Even though they had been without food for several days, they didn’t eat a single watermelon. The team exchanged clothes with them and Chris explained what an honor it was to put on those dirty rags. The shoes were completely worn out, but the team chose to go barefoot and give up their own shoes, which fit the others perfectly. Apparently God had chosen each group member based in part on their shoe size. Many tears were shed as the team prayed for the Chinese and sent them back home with food and money for their journey.

Jesus is the God of abundance. He is the one within whom this provision, this abundance, is located. Look to him, behold him, and you will be amazed.

Amy Orr-Ewing is training director at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in the United Kingdom.
Author: Amy Orr-Ewing

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Daily Bread by Jill Carattini

Take approximately 5 minutes to read this shortened version of yesterday's 'A Slice of Infinity'. Post comments to the blog for spiritual collaboration. Please email your prayer requests too.
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying. As he finished, one of his disciples came to him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:

“Father, may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
Give us each day the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation.” Luke 11:1-4 NLT

Slice of Infinity Snippets:
The Lord’s Prayer, which is familiar to many, comes out of this context, out of the praying of Jesus himself. It is not just good advice about praying; it is his praying. Giving his followers this prayer, Jesus, like John, was following a common rabbinic pattern. When a rabbi taught a prayer, he would use it to teach his disciples the most distinctive, concise, essential elements of his teachings. Furthermore, disciples would learn to pray as their teacher prayed. From then on, when a disciple’s prayer would be heard, it would sound like that of his teacher’s prayers, bearing his mark and posture before the Father. Thus, when we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we sound like Jesus, we belong to him, and we pronounce the lessons he wanted us most to learn.

I am often taken by surprise when my relationship to my daughter teaches me something about my relationship to God. Today's message was one of these moments.

In Exodus 3 when Moses finds God speaking out of a burning bush, God essentially tells him, “I have heard the cries of my people, I have seen their oppression, and I am sending you.” God cares deeply about human need, the world we live in, and the brokenness all around us--so much so that God sends his own children to respond.

When we pray the words Christ told us to pray, we pray out of the same paradox in which he prayed himself. He was both the Son who knew he would need the Father’s provision to get through the days before him and the Son who poured out his life for the crowds and individuals that needed him.

Monday, November 24, 2008

From Whom All Blessings Flow by Jill Carrattini

Take approximately 5 minutes to read this shortened version of yesterday's 'A Slice of Infinity'. Post comments to the blog for spiritual collaboration. Please email your prayer requests too.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?” Numbers 11:20 NLT

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 NLT

Slice of Infinity Snippets:
In what remains a revealing look at human nature, Moses describes life after Egypt. Rescued Israel was a grumbling people sick of manna, wailing for meat, even longing to go back to the land God had mightily delivered them from. Though their daily bread was actually falling from heaven, they wanted more. In the midst of their discontent, Moses revealed God’s promise for meat, but added the wake up call: “You have rejected the Lord, who is among you” (Numbers 11:20).

To our grumbling prone lips, these words are quite revealing. If being thankful is by nature being aware and appreciative of things beyond ourselves, complaining is refusing to see anything but ourselves. It is refusing to see the one who is among us. Moreover, it is an expression that serves only to affirm our own expectations, whether they are based on faulty visions of reality or not. Certainly the Israelites did not want to go back into captivity, but in their grumbling even slavery began to look inviting. Likewise, the falling bread from heaven ceased to be a remarkable sign of provision from the Father, but remarkably, a sign of monotony and their own dreariness.

As we look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, lets really enjoy our time together! Yet, lets also think about our motivations for thankfulness. Here are a few pondering thoughts:
Why do we grumble so much? Why do we concern ourselves so much about our finances and our personal comfort? There are 6 billion people on planet earth and the US is a whopping 300 million. Why are we letting politics split the church? Why are we letting politics/finances keep us from following Jesus? Why, when the culture turns a deaf ear and begins to ignore the church, do we simply turn up the volume? Are we loosing relevance because we have adopted the American idea and we look so much like the the world that people easily see through our religiosity? Do we put our personal comfort before our love for humanity? (I know I do.) How can we focus our animosity on other human beings, regardless of what they do or what they look like when
God loved us before we even were?

If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:3-7 (NLT)

Street Culture:
The street culture always pursues and welcomes them, but the doors of the church are open only on Sunday. The church wants them neat and clean, but the streets take them as they are. Leroy Barber, president, Mission Year as quoted in unChristian-Kinnaman/Lyons

On October 28th, I posted the verse from Titus :
Remind the believers to submit to the government and its officers. They should be obedient, always ready to do what is good. They must not slander anyone and must avoid quarreling. Instead, they should be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Titus 3:1-2

Shannon asked pointed quesiton about what this will look like when many part of an administration do not match our personal convictions.

One thought I want to convey is that in submitting ourselves to governmental authority, we learn to submit to God's. While men are falible, God is not.

Have a great day in Christ COUGARS!