Morning Manna

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You're Not the Boss of Me!

”Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Matthew 7:21

“While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” Acts 13:2,3

I recently returned from a ministry trip to India, my sixth such overseas adventure. I have experienced some very long flights, exotic foods and bugs, cultural differences, challenging modes of transportation and uncomfortable weather conditions. But I’ve also experienced life-challenging interactions with some of the most focused, godly people in the world. I’ve experienced powerful moves of the Holy Spirit. I’ve returned with a deeper faith in God, a more clear understanding of His kingdom plan, a broadened perspective on what it means to walk with God, a wider breadth of friendships and a renewed passion for the work of the Lord.

In view of these awesome benefits, I am always amazed at how many people have completely ruled out the possibility of participating in a ministry/mission trip. I usually get comments and questions like:
“The flight is just too long.”
“I couldn’t handle the bugs.”
“It’s too hot.”
“It’s too expensive.”
“What’s the shopping like?”
“What are the sleeping accommodations?”
“I can’t eat that!”

But what if that is what God wants you to do? Was God’s call on the life of Barnabas and Paul a part of a ministry sampler where they chose what they wanted to do and how they wanted to serve? Indeed it was not! Their assignment was revealed during a worship service, was confirmed during a time of prayer and fasting and was affirmed by the community of faith.

It occurs to me that when we set parameters on service to God that we are placing conditions on our obedience. “God, I’ll go where you want me to go and do what you want me to do…except for the things on this list.” Here is a question for you: “Is obedience with conditions obedience at all?” Can we really call Jesus the Lord of our lives if we are not willing to submit entirely to His will? Is He really our Commander in Chief if we ignore His assignments?”

In the children’s TV show, “Arthur”, DW likes to announce to her older brother, “You’re not the boss of me!” When we set parameters on how, when and under what conditions we will serve God, aren’t we making the same declaration to our Father?

I’m not saying that God is calling everyone to overseas missions and ministry. But I am saying that you need to be open to whatever He calls you to do. I am saying that you need to be placing yourself in a submissive position to God so that you can hear Him whenever He does call you. I am saying that you need to be unconditional in your availability to Him.

After all, God IS the boss. Isn’t He?

Available,
Jason P.

© 2005 Jason Perry

Friday, March 31, 2006

Shine the Light

The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5 (NLT)

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven". Matthew 5:16

Here is an irrefutable truth: darkness can never overcome light. I recently read an article that offered this test as proof of this fact. "First, walk into a well-lighted room with a container of any size made in such a way that light cannot penetrate, so you know that the inside of the container is dark. Open the container and release the darkness and notice if the room becomes any darker. Naturally it does not, because darkness will not overpower light. Next, for part two, darken a room completely. Light a candle of any size and take it into the dark room. Does the room become less dark? Of course it does. If "light" has this much power over "darkness", think how much that "Light" does over "Darkness"!"

This leads me to ask this poignant question of fellow believers and myself. If we are the "light of the world" (Matthew 5:14) then why does the world seem to be getting increasingly darker? Why do our unbelieving neighbors seem to be stumbling even more in the darkness? Why do our classmates seem to be even more confused about life's purpose? Why are our societal morals slipping deeper and deeper into the dusky abyss? Why do our community values seem to be increasingly comfortable in the dimming shadows of perversity?

If we are the light, why is the world in darkness?

If the world is not seeing our light, I believe there to be only two possible explanations: either we are absent from them or the light is absent from us.

If the former is true, it speaks of the abandonment of our responsibility. God has called us to live out our faith in the context of community. He wants our lives to be a beacon of grace and redemption for those who've lost their way. If only ten sources of light had been present in Sodom, they could have pushed back the darkness of destruction. Showing others the way to God is our purpose for living.

If the light is absent from us, it speaks of the abandonment of relationship. Jesus is the Light. If His Spirit is living in us and we are abiding in Him, the transformation that occurs in our lives is bright and recognizable. "A city set on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matt. 5:14). If no one can see the light of your relationship with Christ, you need to ask the question, why is it missing?

Because of the serious implications both scenarios have for others and for ourselves, we cannot afford to be passive in remedying situations. We can learn from Dylan Thomas' encouragement to his aging father to not give in to infirmity and weakness and slip quietly into death.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


Be aggressive and proactive in pushing back the darkness in the world and in your heart. We have the light. We must be the light.

Let it shine,
Jason P.
© 2005 Jason Perry

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Breaking through the Quitting Points

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin, which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…" Hebrews 12:1,2

"let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24,25

During a prayer meeting, a friend asked God to help someone “break through the quitting points.” That reminded me of my college years when my friend, Sly, and I would meet early in the mornings to go running. It was always hard to get going and it seemed that we alternated days wanting to quit early. Knowing this, we both had to take the responsibility to not give in to the feeling, but to encourage the other to keep going a little further. Inevitably, we would hit a point where we felt better and could seemingly run for days. Equally inevitable was the fact that when one of us ran without the other, we found that we were more likely to quit earlier, running a shorter distance and time. The key to success was to “break through the quitting points.”

You arrive at quitting points when...
... physical output (work, exercise, busyness) exceeds your input (rest, food, conditioning)
... emotional output (relationships, empathy/sympathy, fear) exceeds your emotional intake (encouragement, laughter, love, hope)
... spiritual output (ministry, life) exceeds your spiritual intake (Bible reading, prayer, time with God)

Long distance runners call this “hitting the wall” – the point where you simply run out of energy. So how do we break through the quitting points? Here are 3 factors you must take into consideration when you are ready to give up.

Consider your witnesses. When I read Hebrews 12:1, I get a picture of me running in a race of faith where the streets and stands are filled with all the people who throughout the years have set examples for, taught, mentored and challenged me. They are there to see how well I will put into practice what I have learned from them. Their “presence” should motivate and inspire us to fight on and not dishonor their input and sacrifice.

Consider your God. No one has ever had a more difficult course to run than our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to look at his life, his practices, his attitude and mimic those things in our lives. How did he handle disappointment and frustration? How did handle temptation and fear? How did he handle busyness and pressure? Yes, Jesus was God, but he was also fully man, experiencing life in all of its ugliness, just as we do. We should observe and follow his example.

Consider your fellow saints. We don’t run this race alone. If it is only about “me” then we become selfish. If it is only about “others” we become martyrs. When it is about “us” and “we”, we become family. We need to think about how can we encourage fellow saints who have become worn out in the journey, whose hearts are broken and spirits have become weary. But we also need to admit that there are times when we are the one’s who are in need of the encouragement. We can’t allow our pride or privacy to cause us to hide our need from others. We are a part of the body of Christ – we are interdependent on each other. Acknowledging that we need others is not an indication of weakness, but of wisdom.

The question is not if you will come to a “quitting point”, but when. The bigger question is what will you do to get through it? Think about it.

Running the race,
Jason P.
© 2005 Jason Perry

Breaking through the Quitting Points

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin, which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith…" Hebrews 12:1,2

"let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24,25

During a prayer meeting, a friend asked God to help someone “break through the quitting points.” That reminded me of my college years when my friend, Sly, and I would meet early in the mornings to go running. It was always hard to get going and it seemed that we alternated days wanting to quit early. Knowing this, we both had to take the responsibility to not give in to the feeling, but to encourage the other to keep going a little further. Inevitably, we would hit a point where we felt better and could seemingly run for days. Equally inevitable was the fact that when one of us ran without the other, we found that we were more likely to quit earlier, running a shorter distance and time. The key to success was to “break through the quitting points.”

You arrive at quitting points when:
  • physical output (work, exercise, busyness) exceeds your input (rest, food, conditioning)
  • emotional output (relationships, empathy/sympathy, fear) exceeds your emotional intake (encouragement, laughter, love, hope)
  • spiritual output (ministry, life) exceeds your spiritual intake (Bible reading, prayer, time with God)

    Long distance runners call this “hitting the wall” – the point where you simply run out of energy. So how do we break through the quitting points? Here are 3 factors you must take into consideration when you are ready to give up.

    Consider your witnesses. When I read Hebrews 12:1, I get a picture of me running in a race of faith where the streets and stands are filled with all the people who throughout the years have set examples for, taught, mentored and challenged me. They are there to see how well I will put into practice what I have learned from them. Their “presence” should motivate and inspire us to fight on and not dishonor their input and sacrifice.

    Consider your God. No one has ever had a more difficult course to run than our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to look at his life, his practices, his attitude and mimic those things in our lives. How did he handle disappointment and frustration? How did handle temptation and fear? How did he handle busyness and pressure? Yes, Jesus was God, but he was also fully man, experiencing life in all of its ugliness, just as we do. We should observe and follow his example.

    Consider your fellow saints. We don’t run this race alone. If it is only about “me” then we become selfish. If it is only about “others” we become martyrs. When it is about “us” and “we”, we become family. We need to think about how can we encourage fellow saints who have become worn out in the journey, whose hearts are broken and spirits have become weary. But we also need to admit that there are times when we are the one’s who are in need of the encouragement. We can’t allow our pride or privacy to cause us to hide our need from others. We are a part of the body of Christ – we are interdependent on each other. Acknowledging that we need others is not an indication of weakness, but of wisdom.

    The question is not if you will come to a “quitting point”, but when. The bigger question is what will you do to get through it? Think about it.

    Running the race,
    Jason P.
    © 2005 Jason Perry

  • Monday, January 02, 2006

    The Gift of Prayer

    “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:26,27

    Sitting at a stop light on my way to the office, I looked to my left and observed that the woman in the car next to me had tears streaming down her face. My heart immediately went out to her. I wanted to roll down my window and ask her what was wrong or was there anything I could do for her. Wisdom prevailed, however, when I evaluated the remote possibility of this woman pouring out her heart to a complete stranger in the fleeting moments we sat a traffic signal. I could feel her pain, but I didn’t know what to do I decide that the best thing I could do for her was pray. And I did.

    The next morning another regular at the gym came to me and said, “I’m enlisting the help of all my prayer warriors.” She asked me to pray for her mother who has cancer and her 4 day-old granddaughter who was possibly facing some serious medical problems. As I climbed the Stairmaster, I lifted up my friend’s family to Lord.

    A stranger on the street, newborn baby in the hospital and a sick woman whose name I’d just learned. What can I do for them? What can I give them? What do they need? I don’t know, but God does. How often have you heard it said (if you have not said it yourself) in response to some perplexing or overwhelming dilemma, “all I can do is pray”? This statement reveals an overestimation of our ability to solve problems and an underestimation of the power of God and of prayer. The reality is that in most cases, all we should do is pray because our knowledge, resources and ability limit the effectiveness of our solutions. I’ve heard it said that “when man works, man works. But when man prays, God works.”

    Prayer is a gift that keeps on giving:
  • It will never be returned
  • It will always work
  • It is affordable and fits anyone’s budget
  • Not limited by distance or difficulty
  • It will always arrive on time
  • One size fits all
  • Perfect knowledge of the situation is not necessary
  • It continues to work long after we’ve forgotten about the situation

    God is neither impressed by the eloquence of our prayers nor depressed by the lack thereof. God is not moved by the length of our prayers nor unmoved by their simplicity. Prayer possesses no requirements of perfection or prerequisites of understanding. The only condition of prayer is a humble heart that has confidence that God can do whatever is necessary. If you hold up your end of the bargain, God is more than capable of handling His. There is no better gift you can ever give than the gift of prayer.

    Needing to pray,
    Jason P.
    © 2005 Jason Perry

  • Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    Can You Google God?

    ”Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 'You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13

    I am fascinated by the amount of information on the Internet. It seems like every bit of information in the world can now be found somewhere on the World Wide Web. But, I am even more fascinated by the ability of Google to find, organize and present that information in blazing speed. Anytime I’m in a pinch for knowledge and am near a computer, I just punch a few words into the seemingly ubiquitous search engine and voila!- I have any number websites from which I can select to find an answer.

    Possessing the curious mind that I do, I wondered, “What happens when you Google “God”? I typed in the name and .07 seconds later I was given 176,000,000 references to God on the Internet.

    What do you find when you Google God?
  • Arguments for and against His existence
  • Names for Him and organizations named for Him
  • Attempts to locate, define, shape, and colorize Him
  • Sermons, books, movies and poems that seek to explain Him
  • Theories, and concepts that attempt deify, humanize or demonize Him

  • Yes, you can find a boatload of information about God, but what you won’t find is a relationship with God.

    God cannot be discovered or dismissed in well-crafted prose or well-argued debates. He can’t be digitized and filed. He can’t be boxed, packaged, or labeled in a slick website. In an age of mind-blowing technology with high-speed connections and unparalleled access, God has chosen to make access to Himself a much simpler matter.

    It’s as simple as dialing him up in prayer, knowing that He will always have the time to take your call because He sincerely desires to have a relationship with you. It’s a simple matter of the heart – a heart that is softened by trust and humbled by sincerity rather than hardened by skepticism.

    Do you want to know Him or are you looking for reasons to explain Him away? Are you searching for Him or for excuses why you shouldn’t trust Him? He is not a distant, distant relative, but a very present help in the time of need. His name is Immanuel (God with us). God is not playing a game of divine hide and seek, but wants us to genuinely seek Him promising that He will gladly be found. God is hidden only from eyes that have been dimmed by doubt or whose souls that have been cluttered with sin.

    Google is great for finding a lot of stuff, but God is not one of them. The only search engine you need to find God is a humbled heart.

    Searching for God,
    Jason P.
    © 2005 Jason Perry

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005

    Fast Food Fries and Second Hand Faith

    “These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence." Colossians 2:23

    One of my childhood memories was coming home after school and making French Fries as a snack. One day I decided to share this treat with my children. I took the time to select, wash, peel and slice the potatoes. I fried them up to a beautiful golden brown, lightly salted them and called the kids to the kitchen. I was happy to be able share this simple pleasure with them and I eagerly waited to hear their evaluations and proclamations of, “these are great!” or “why have we never had these before!”

    Instead what I got was, “This is nasty; what are they?” When I said homemade fries, they broke my heart with the declaration, “we like McDonald’s better!” None of my protestations or explanations could convince them of the superiority of fresh, handcrafted potato delights over the processed, lamp-warmed, better-eat-them-while-they’re-hot fast food version. Much to my dismay, their young palates had grown accustomed to and therefore, favored the inferior product.

    And so it goes with our own spiritual lives. If we feed ourselves a steady diet of pseudo-spirituality we will become so acclimated to a second-hand salvation that when we are offered the real deal, we will not be able to appreciate or recognize its greatness. Religious activity and legalistic observations of rites and rituals are no substitute for heartfelt service to God. Listening to music rather than participating in worship or the acquisition of biblical knowledge without personal transformation produces an inferior brand of Christianity.

    Paul warned the Colossian church that while following their own personally prescribed set of religious rules made them feel good about themselves and look good before people, this man-made religion was powerless in conquering a person's evil thoughts and desires.

    Are you settling for fast food fries and a second hand faith? Are you substituting committee work for communion with God? Are you satisfied with performance of religious duties for God rather than pursuit of relationship with Him? Has your palate become so bored by the routine of church attendance that you are failing to taste the fresh flavor of God’s presence? God has so much for you!

    I am reminded of the hymn, Satisfied, that speaks of the journey of a soul from futility to fulfillment:

    All my life I had a longing, for a drink from some clear spring,
    That I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within.

    Feeding on the husks around me, till my strength was almost gone,
    Longed my soul for something better, only still to hunger on.

    Hallelujah! I have found Him whom my soul so long has craved!
    Jesus satisfies my longings, through His blood I now am saved.


    Stop settling for anything less than the exciting, transforming and abundant life that we have been promised through Christ. Let God quicken your spiritual taste buds and awaken you to a life in Him that far exceeds what you could have ever imagined.

    Wanting a taste of God,
    Jason P.
    © 2005 Jason Perry

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005

    The Devil Caters Pity Parties

    “Then he came there to a cave and lodged there; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." 1 Kings 19:9-10

    “I decided to mourn the tragedy, but to not wallow in it.”

    These were the words of a 19-year-old young man who had suffered a horrific loss. At age 15 he was involved in a train accident that led to the amputation of his right arm and both legs above the knees. Today he swims, golfs, competes in triathlons and travels the country motivating others to never give up in spite of adversity.
    There’s no question about it, life can slap you upside the head with some serious force. There will never be a shortage of things about which we can complain, fuss and worry. We will always have our pick of reasons why we can produce a litany of lamentations about the unfairness of life.

    Elijah, even after one of the most remarkable spiritual victories in the history of mankind, found himself sulking in a mountain cave depressed over Jezebel’s threats on his life. When God questioned him as to the reason for his emotional funk, Elijah sought to justify and draw God into his pity party.

    When you want to feel sorry for yourself and think, “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows my trials,” the devil will cater your pity party. He will provide pitiful partygoers who will commiserate with you. He will provide the sad music to listen to and the blues to sing. He will provide the entertainment. There will be recordings of all of your missteps, mistakes, mishaps, misfortunes and missed opportunities that will be on continual replay just in case you missed something the first 100 times you saw it. He will provide the drinks in which you can drown your sorrow and medicate your sadness. The devil will spare no expense to make your pity party a roaring success.

    But don’t expect God to accept your invitation; it’s not His style. “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b).

    He has thrown your failures into a see of forgetfulness. If you choose to go scuba diving to search for reminders of your impotence and futility, don’t expect God to rejoice over and review your discoveries. He’s not having it and neither should you.

    Instead of RSVPing the devil’s shindig of self-pity and shame, why don’t you join God’s jamboree of joy? You should accept God’s invitation to have a logic defying peace, an unspeakable joy, a power of surpassing greatness, an unshakeable faith, a living hope, an amazing grace, and an unquenchable love. His psalms of hope will rock the house, setting your heart on fire and your feet to dancing. The sweet wine of His Holy Spirit is intoxicating and empowering. His partygoers will warm, not weigh down, your heart.

    Life may be tough, but remember that your God is tougher and therefore, so are you.

    In the midst of your trials, look for God and slam the door on the devil.

    Partying with the Lord,
    Jason P.
    © 2005 Jason Perry