The Gift

Gifts are special. Gifts can sit on a shelf awaiting the appropriate time to be given, or they can be spontaneous. Gifts can come in small or large boxes. Sometimes the gift in the smallest box is far superior to the one in the larger container.

giftThe Lord knows how to give good gifts. If a son asks for bread, he will not give him a stone.

When the Lord selects our gift, He handcrafts it so it is exactly what we need. His gift is sometimes not what we would have picked, but He knows our true needs.

Sometimes the gift is an unexpected answer to prayers that may be decades old or it could just be a little reminder that the Lord is good and He loves us with an infallible love.

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The Seasons of Life

I recently posted this update on Facebook.

Deciding to step down from jail ministry was hard, but I was deeply touched by the comments that followed on Facebook – especially from those who have first hand knowledge of my involvement in men’s lives at the jail over many years.

In the meantime, pray for Marianne, my mom and me as we bring grace and dignity to my dad as he closes out a lifetime of service to the King.

~ Jim Wright

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The Gospel, Up Straight and Direct

Today I was with a group of men in the jail. One of them was very troubled because his son was getting into all kinds of trouble. He couldn’t understand why, because (he claimed) he loved his son and was always telling him he loved him.

repentanceI felt something stir in my spirit, looked him straight in the eye, and said that was a lie. He didn’t love his son, he loved his drugs more – and thus had not cared enough to be part of his son’s life as his son was growing up. This deeply wounded his son, who felt unloved and worthless because of it – and was now acting out.

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Gentleness

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness… Gal 5:22-23 NIV

Webster lists the characteristics of gentleness as being soft, meek, passive, mild, delicate, kind and docile. In Psalm 18:35 David says that the Lord’s “gentleness has made me great.” This seems to be a contradiction. How could the characteristics of gentleness, as defined by Webster, make someone great? Perhaps the Lord’s definition of gentleness implies much more.lion and the lamb 2

I believe that the Lord wants us to be gentle, but His gentleness is not a wishy-washy docility. Gentleness has a hidden core of strength and this core is what makes someone great. Gentleness’ strength runs deep, like the molten lava in a volcanic magma chamber. Tremendous heat transforms hard rock into a flexible, moving force.

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Apples and Pears

Apples and Pears

On Saturdays I love to go to the Farmers’ Market. I always go to one particular stand because they have the most flavorful peaches, apples and fresh vegetables. At the Farmers’ Market I enjoy the eclectic mix of people as well as the fresh produce.

Because it is the fall season, apples and pears are in abundance. The number of varieties is astounding! When I go to the market I look for the fruit that is unblemished. If I arrive near closing time, often the bruised fruit are the only ones left. Everyone seems to desire the perfect fruit, not the damaged ones.

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Hanging On – Part 2

Are we living up to God’s plan for His body? What is His plan for His body? Are we all heart? Are we all head?

I believe a spider web exemplifies the body of Christ. A spider web is both beautiful and useful, but also very complex. The spider’s silk has the unique ability to become softer or stiffer depending on the stress the web receives. It is not stagnant but active. God so designed the spider’s web that when one strand breaks, the strength of the entire web actually increases.

God desires the same for His church. There are times when a situation requires softness and the “web” needs to reach out and actively demonstrate that attribute. In contrast, sometimes the body needs to show stiffness and resolve, so rushing to the rescue might not be the best answer.

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Going and Owning – And Knowing the Difference

One of my strongest beliefs is that God calls us for a purpose – and gives us individual grace and gifts to match.

As Christ in us is expressed through us, we expand His Kingdom for the blessing of all – wherever He calls us.

Different Grace, Different Gifts, Different Callings

Where He bids us go, and what He bids us do, is different for each – and I have also learned that it often changes with the seasons of our lives.

For some, at this time in their life, it is to go and raise Godly families. For others, it is in the business realm as they create resources and opportunities. For some, it is going out to the fringes of their communities and ministering to those in need.

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Room at the Inn

Is there still no room at the inn?

It’s not too late:  Invite to your time of Christmas family sharing, or to your Christmas meal, that man or woman who recently was released from prison, or that person who has no family in your area and is alone, or someone who is destitute and living in the woods near your home (trust me, they are there).

Embrace

You and your family will bless them, and be blessed, more than you can ever imagine.

If you don’t know anyone to invite, call your local homeless shelter or battered women’s shelter. Ask for the staff person on duty. Tell him/her you want to invite someone to join your family Christmas morning, or to share a Christmas meal at your home.

Let them know if you are interested in inviting a family, or maybe just an individual or two, and ask for their recommendation. They will know the residents, and will do a good job introducing you to an appropriate person or family.

Some of my most enduring friendships have come from reaching outside my comfort zone to those who are destitute, abandoned, imprisoned or just plain alone. It will change you far more than them.

And please, don’t try to “fix” them – just be a friend. The rest just sort of follows naturally – including them fixing you as you open your heart and your life to those who you previously treated as “other” or only “helped” through impersonal “programs”.

Take a chance. Open your home and your lives to embrace the Joseph’s and Mary’s of our age.

This is true church. This is true religion. This is true grace.

~ Jim Wright

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About Justice

About Justice

Jesus comforted the afflicted, and afflicted the comfortable.

Compassion for the Afflicted or for Evildoers?

When, through your silence or denial, the afflicted pay the price to maintain your comfort zones – in your personal life, your church, your community or your nation – watch out!

Justice, in its most basic terms, is making sure that evildoers – rather than their victims – bear the cost of their evil.

Injustice is when we impose those costs on the victims, often because we are unwilling to be discomforted by admitting to – or dealing with – the evil among us.

Jesus, because He is love, is also about justice.

And so, even today, He comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable.

Limousine Liberals

Seat of Luxury

One afternoon a liberal congressman – well known for supporting expensive budget busting government programs to “help” the poor – was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the roadside eating grass. Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop so he could investigate.

He rolled down his window and motioned to one of the men to come over. From the comfort of his richly-leathered seat, he asked, “Why are you eating grass?”

“We don’t have any money for food,” the poor man replied. “We have to eat grass.”

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Ken Hornby (1945 – 2010)

Kenneth Lewis Hornby — a pastor, mentor, mutual confidant, fishing partner, flying buddy and friend who was closer than a brother — died early this morning after an extended battle with cancer.

Ken and his wife, Mary Lou, loved to go flying in my plane

Although he was my best friend, Ken and I had a relationship that transcended mere friendship.

We were so opposite, but so complementary, that it was sometimes scary how God nonetheless knit us together. Ken taught me heart, while I taught him rock. We irrevocably changed each other.

Last summer, I felt the Lord gently tell me that Ken was going to die. When we met a couple of days later for breakfast, Ken on his own initiative — and without me mentioning anything — said God showed him in a recent dream to prepare for an prolonged, painful death. I knew in my spirit that Ken was right, and as we continued to talk that morning about his own inner — and very human — struggles, I quietly resolved to be a pillar of support for him in the coming months.

Although Ken had previously battled cancer, including two major surgeries, his long-term prospects until then had been hopeful.

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Discovering Our Motivational Gifts

Each of us is born with a personality that’s uniquely tailored to what God created us to do with our lives.

OptionsUnderstanding God’s calling, and the associated personality He’s gifted us with, is not difficult: Our calling matches our gifts, and our gifts match our passions.

Furthermore, when we use our gifts and fulfill our calling according to God’s will, we feel His pleasure – in addition to our own.

There’s a problem, however, when our validation comes from using our gifts or pursing our calling, instead of pleasing God. Rather than being content with God saying “well done, thou good and faithful servant,” we seek legitimacy in who we are, what we do, how others react to us, or in the results of our actions.

Such validation comes from and is focused on us, rather than God.

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