Walking in Reverse

by guest blogger Pastor Terry Nightingale

I was talking with a friend the other day.

He had been offered a role in an organisation where his unique abilities and connections would be vital for the next phase of their vision.

He was flattered with the offer but extremely reluctant to accept it. The trouble was, he had worked for the company several years previously and, although under different management back then, he had not found them willing to embrace his ideas. In fact, the feelings of rejection were still quite raw.

The organisation had moved on since that time with the new leadership team taking it in an exciting new direction, but my friend could only see the pain he felt eight years ago.

While we were talking, I found my self thinking of Moses.

Moses had left Egypt out of favour and under a cloud. After a misguided attempt to win justice for a fellow Israelite, he not only felt the rejection of his own people but the sentence of death from his adoptive father – the Pharaoh. Moses had no choice but to close that chapter of his life and move on.

Years later, and now with a wife and family, God called him back, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt… the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.’ (Ex 3: 7 – 10)

I wonder what went through Moses’s mind.

The first question he asks God is, ‘Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?’ In other words, ‘Lord, I burned that bridge decades ago, they didn’t want my help then; I’m sure as heck they don’t need it now.’ God had to reassure Moses that things were different now: there’s a different Pharaoh on the throne and the elders of Israel will listen to him.

A lengthy conversation ensued between the Lord and Moses and the reluctant prophet finally agreed to do the job.

The end of the story is worth noting: Moses led his people out of slavery, away from the threat of the Egyptian army, to the mountain of God where the community was effectively re-born as people of the living God.

History as we know it flowed from that moment.

Moses submitted to the pain of revisiting the past and a nation was established amidst miracles and wonders. For God’s purposes to move forward, one man had to step back into a place he thought he had walked away from. For Moses, returning to Egypt would have felt like going backwards, opening old wounds, but in God’s master plan it was the key to a significant advance of His purposes.

I wonder if God is calling you to return to something or someone. Life may have moved on, but God is a God of history as well as the future and the two are more than linked. In order for God to bear his fruit in and through you in the future, maybe he is calling you to walk through an old familiar door – even if just for a season.

God bless – Terry

If you found this encouraging you can find more short devotions like this one at https://pastorterry4.wixsite.com/website


About guest blogger Terry Nightingale:

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Pastor Terry Nightingale

Terry is a pastor serving in the southern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, having previously worked in education both in the UK and Perth. Terry has been involved in Christian ministry in a variety of ways over the years from teaching to evangelism, from music ministry to pastoral care.

Terry and Sue moved to Australia in 2003 from the UK. Today they have two grown-up children both married, and two grandchildren. They enjoy walking and watching Science Fiction movies.

A Broken SAINT

by Guest Blogger Matt Giesbrecht

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines broken in various ways. In particular, it defines broken as “damaged or altered by breaking” and “made weak or infirm.” MW also defines broken as being “cut off or disconnected” and “incomplete.” In a word, to be broken is to be imperfect.

It defines saint as having to do with personal holiness and being “one of God’s chosen.”

The definitions of the former (broken) I look to as descriptors of myself and have done so for as long as I can remember. That of the latter, however, I struggle to identify with. From a worldly standard, I suppose all I have is my personal understanding of who I am and what I desire to be. The humanist raison d’être, after all, is exactly what set this standard. I cannot be more than what I am, but I can be the best of what I am. It seems like a virtuous standard, nonetheless. However virtuous, the fallout of my imperfection remains in some circumstances disastrous. I have hurt people by my choices. I have hurt myself. Surely my best has in some ways been less than virtuous.

This marks my first post on my new blog hosted by WordPress. I decided to make the change to WordPress for no particular reason other than to find out how different the experience will be. If anyone enjoys reading my posts and would like to read my previous entries, please feel free to read them here.

I figured I would start my blog by pointing out the meaning behind its name, or at least, it’s significance to me.

I am learning (I feel I must use the term “learning” loosely, as it seems I am a slow learner at things of life) to regard myself as a broken saint. Of course, this is a label I am giving myself. Let me explain its significance for me.

As a broken saint, I am both faltered and redeemed. Inasmuch as my brokenness is part of my spiritual and moral DNA, (I cannot be anything other than fallen from the heavenly standard set by an objective Creator-God) my saint-ness is bestowed upon me by a Salvific, merciful God. I have not chosen to be a saint any more than I have chosen to be broken. These are both things outside my determination.

Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human . . .,” which simply means that no one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes, causes pain, and fails at keeping even their own standards from time to time. This is something all human beings cannot help. My brokenness comes as a result of simply being human.

Pope included, “. . . to forgive divine.” If the realization comes that we are in fact destined to imperfection (without changing some rule or set of rules to suit ourselves), it should dawn on us that there stands on objective standard or principle, and in order to allow hope beyond our failures, there needs to be some sort of pardon. Enter the cosmic plan of a divine Saviour.

From the onset of Creation, my Heavenly Father chose to make me part of His plan of salvation. I believe this plan is for everyone, whether they choose to accept it or not. Not only this, God-through-Christ has intended to include me in His Kingdom work, laying on me a responsibility to extend His rule in the world I live in. He chose this for me before I was born, before I knew Him, and while I was still His enemy. He tarried for me to accept this new identity until I did; and I believe He tarries for me still, as I continue, like Jacob, to wrestle with Him over Lordship of my life. He awaits for me to yield to His benevolent authority.

I’m a saint because God says I am and only because I have accepted my brokenness apart from Him. Without having made the choice to cling to the salvation offered me by the only One who can save me, I would remain lost in my brokenness, though still dysfunctional in make-up. I’m a saint who is being pieced together by my Maker. He fills the cracks, re-wires my character, restores my soul. For this I am thankful.

For as long as I live under the rule of Christ, I am a Broken Saint.

Taste and See

My favorite Persian dish is Khoresh-e-Fesenjoon, a chicken stew with walnut and pomegranate sauce. With the proper ingredients and right preparation, it tastes out of this world. The flavor is like no other. It’s tangy and sweet at the same time. I believe one of the dishes served at God’s Banquet Table will be Khoresh-e-Fesenjoon served over Saffron rice.

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Photo by Artur Rutkowski on Unsplash

The recipe consists of two super foods, walnuts and pomegranates. In a rich sauce, the walnut adds a wonderful nutty taste to make all the flavors come together. However, all the credit goes to the pomegranates’ thick syrup or as we call it in Farsi, Rob-e-Anar, which gives the stew its amazing tangy sweet flavor. Having several Pomegranate trees, we make our own syrup. It takes several hours, and it takes a gallon of Pomegranate juice to make about 18 ounces of syrup. But it’s worth every minute of the labor.

This is how the stew is prepared.

The following is taken from Persianmama.com

INGREDIENTS

1½ large yellow onion sliced thin and fried golden brown in 3-4 TBSP vegetable oil 2 pounds skinless chicken drumsticks or thighs (4-5 pieces)

8 ounces walnut halves (about 2 cups)

¼ cup cold water

1 cup pomegranate concentrate

¼ tsp kosher salt

⅛ tsp freshly cracked black pepper

Pomegranate seeds for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Pick through the walnuts for any shells and add to a food processor and process until it turns to a tan-colored paste.

2. With the food processor running add ¼ cup cold water through the feed chute. Continue processing until the paste becomes uniformly beige in color.

3. Fry the sliced onions with 3-4 TBSP vegetable oil in a 6-Qt stockpot until golden brown. Remove from the pot.

4. Add chicken to the same stockpot and top it with the walnut paste evenly over the fried onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

5. Drizzle the pomegranate concentrate over all the ingredients.

6. Bring to a boil over medium heat. The pomegranate concentrate tends to stick and burn fairly quickly so avoid high heat.

7. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.

8. Now reduce the heat to low and simmer covered for an additional 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is fork tender and falls off the bone.

9. Stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure the sauce does not stick to the pot. If at the end of this time period the sauce has not thickened enough, leave the pot uncovered for about 10 minutes on low heat for a thicker sauce.

Transfer the Fesenjoon to a serving dish and sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on top as garnish.

Serve over Saffron rice.

And this is a photo of the final product.

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Can you feel your nostrils tingling and your mouth salivating? Are you licking your lips wondering what kind of amazing dance Fesenjoon might do on your taste buds? Why are you wondering about that? Everything you need to know about Koresh-e-Fesenjoon is in writing in front of you. You know its ingredients, you know how to make it, you know how to serve it, and you even have a photo of it.

But all that means nothing when it comes to actually knowing what the dish is all about. So, what’s missing here? You have not eaten the food. You have not experienced its TASTE.

The Bible is clear that reading about God, studying theology, or even becoming a Bible scholar is not enough when it comes to knowing God. That is just like studying Fesenjoon to death, knowing its ingredients, knowing the nutritional benefit of every ingredient, the calories per serving, how to prepare and serve it, or even get a PhD in Khoresh-e-Fesenjoon (I believe there are some schools that hand out PhD in Khoresh), but never know the depth and the richness of the dish because you never tasted it. That is why the Psalmist says,

“TASTE and see that God is good.” Ps. 34:8

In order to know the Creator, one has to experience or taste him and if you don’t agree with me, the next time you come to my house for dinner, your meal will consist of a picture of Fesenjoon with its ingredients and how to prepare it written underneath the photo.


Many thanks to guest blogger Shah Afshar for today’s post. Please visit his website.

ABOUT SHAH

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Shah Afshar

Shahkrokh “Shah” Afshar is an original. He founded and pastored the first Iranian Christian organization in the United States. Shah has been instrumental in reaching the Muslim world with the gospel. His work as a professor and as a Muslim world mission coordinator for Foursquare Missions International expanded his influence worldwide. As a former Muslim and seminary-trained leader, Shah shares unique insights with humor and wit. His passion is to communicate the relevance of Christ’s message to a skeptical generation. Shah is available to speak at conventions, churches, schools and for TV/radio interviews.