Monthly Archives: June 2010
Pastor David Smith from Gateway church made an interesting observation about the worlds obvious decline. He basically said “Society isn’t in the shape it’s in because non Christians aren’t doing what is right… it’s because Christians aren’t doing what’s right”
Does that sound a bit harsh?… or is it a harsh reality?
When we are living according to the promises of God… then we are living within his promises, and that means we can benefit from them also. This of course doesn’t mean that life will be easy… but you’ll certainly have the feeling while in the midst of that dark place that everything will sort its self out. Now this is not some unfounded think positive scheme… this is a certain trust in a God that cares and provides for your every need, if we believe.
Ok… that’s fine but what does that have to do with living a life of integrity?
Well isn’t living a life where your behavior matches your beliefs the definition of integrity?
A life in which what we say and what we do are the same thing?
Non Christians aren’t living under those promises so the things they do are purely living in the trust of human strength… but it’s because Christians are (or should I say should be) living under God’s promises that AMAZING things can happen, but here’s the clincher… unless we are living with our behavior matching our beliefs, we aren’t fully living under the umbrella of God’s promises, are we?
Are you living a life under the umbrella of God’s promises?
Or are you missing out on God’s blessings?
Does your Behavior match your belief?
Or are you found that your belief isn’t as strong as you would like to believe?
We woke up one morning to find that the car that we had left out on the street had been vandalized, some one had got up on the bonnet of the car and kicked in the windscreen. This was so frustrating. The reason the car was out on the street to start off with was that’s where the car decide to die after it broke down due to the alternator failing on use and to make matters worse we didn’t have enough money to pay for it… and now a window smashed. It was clear this car wasn’t going to pass the warrant of fitness (road worthiness of the car) I mean you couldn’t even see out the window… It was very annoying.
We were very fortunate that we had been given another car, this too was a bit of a ‘rust bucket’ and not fit for the roads, but it was good enough to sell if someone wanted to take the time to fix it… we thought we would sell it so we could fix the ‘better’ car, with the bung alternator and the smashed window.
The car up the drive had been given to us, so we didn’t want much for it, we were happy for just enough to cover the costs of fixing the car on the street (about $300)
Now we have pretty good neighbors. Mark and Megan on one side and a fairly quiet bloke on the other… we have tried to meet this other guy, but he seemed to work strange hours and when we had gone over he wasn’t there, but when we saw him every now and then on the street we would be polite and wave. It was funny, we had tried so many to times to meet him, but it just never worked out, so what happened next could only have been a God ordained situation.
We went out one evening with our very good friend Liv and my parents babysat our 5 kids, while we sat court side at netball that was in town that night. While we were out my parents had a visitor at our house… it was our shy and somewhat hard to pin down next door neighbor… it turns out that his name is Scott, any way he came over to say that he was concerned about the car smashed on the street.
So when we came home my Father explained the situation and said that he would give me a hand to push the smashed car up the drive… as we came out who would turn up but Scott, our newly found friend.
Turns out that Scott knows about cars and knew someone who can fix our alternator… the insurance can fix our windscreen and Scott had a friend who had a car stolen and needed a new set of wheels to get around in.
So because our car ‘just happened’ to stop outside our house meant that it got it’s windscreen smashed, which meant we met our neighbor, which meant that we got our alternator fixed (and get a spare one just for the record) and get it fitted for free. But also… we got rid of the rust bucket car that was sitting in our drive, which was given to Scott’s friend who needed a car, fulfilling a need to someone we just meet who was amazed that we didn’t want anything extra for the car.
That can’t be anything but a God situation… there’s too much stuff that just happened ‘randomly’ for it to just be coincidence.
I’m reminded… of Romans 12:12
“Be Glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble and always be prayerful”
You see our God is Jehovah-Jireh… our provider. And he takes care of EVERY need… right down to the smashed window.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack NOTHING!”
As life gets faster, technology gets cheaper and the expensive become deposable, and it becomes easy to treat life the same way. I mean everything is now instant; you walk into a takeaway store and walk out minutes later… with full burger meal, you send a letter via the internet to someone on the other side of the world and they receive it… seconds later, microwave ovens bring down cook times for meal from hours to minutes, even the coffee is instant… I put instant coffee in the microwave the other night and nearly went back in time!! things happen THAT fast.
When something is broken, it’s often easier to chuck it out and get a new one. Bigger, Better, Faster… No need to keep anything old everything is new. And it got me thinking, isn’t it a real contrast to what Jesus showed…
Read what it says in the Bible in Romans:
“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners…. but God showed his love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners”
Broken… we were broken. And Christ came and found us… he went looking for us and he gave his life for us.
We were the i-pod that had no sound, the remote control car with no wheels, the colour TV with no picture… we were the things that would have been thrown away because we were riddled with sin… and God sent his son, so that we could be purchased. Taken from this worlds used toy store where the only way out was to be thrown out with the rest of the garbage.
So why are we so focused on going back to our old ways? Taking off our brand new wheels and chrome paint job that we have been given to us as we are restored in preparation for a “life lived in it’s fullness” as God intended just to sit again in the worlds used toy store… when we have been purchase and made “a new creation”.
Is it just familiar?
Are we scared that we don’t fit in?
Because I’ve got news for you… we don’t fit in. We don’t belong in the world anymore.
We belong to God!
As Christians we have all heard how we don’t need to do anything more to gain the grace of God because Christ has already done it (in relation to salvation).
But how often do we look at the hard times we are facing and say “God has already won this battle?” I mean if God can defeat sin &death, then most of our other problems seem minor in comparison …
In Joshua 6:10 God says:
“I have delivered Jericho into your hands.”
Which you may think as a nice thing for God to do… but here’s the really cool part. God’s people hadn’t even attacked Jericho yet, God was talking future tense, to people in the present tense, about a battle they hadn’t even had. Did you notice God didn’t say “I will deliver Jericho”… he said “I have DELIVERED”
Now please hear me I’m not talking about some crazy prosperity gospel, but if we are following the promptings of God and he’s placed something on your heart, then the battle has already been done, so why shouldn’t we go follow his calling?
Do you believe God has already won your battle?
I heard a quote from pastor Mark Batterson (from NCC – National Community Church) on twitter a while back and it has been sitting, stirring in my mind for a while.
What he said was this:
“God isn’t offended by big dreams or bold prayers. He is offended by anything less.”
Now from hearing Mark preach before, and reading some of his books, I know he’s not trying to put God into a box or even try and predetermine how or why God does something… but the phrase does resonate something else regarding they way we see God.
How often do you find yourself praying to God about things that could have come true anyway… about the weather, about having a good day at work, about finding a good park because you are late for work. Now lets think about this, you’re praying to the God who made all creation, and your prayers are nothing more than “hope you have a nice day”… THE GOD OF ALL CREATION people, who are you speaking too? Now I know that God also provides for our most basic needs, in intricate detail… but that doesn’t mean that’s ALL he can do for us, small detail. Our God is MUCH bigger than that.
In The Bible in John it says:
“My purpose is to give life in all it’s fullness”
It’s a bit hard for God to give you life in all it’s fullness, when you don’t let God move in your life in a way that lets him.
This is the God that gave us the power “to move mountains” if we have “faith even as small as a mustard seed”… yet we seem either to be so worried about embarrassing God when he doesn’t do what we prayed for, that we don’t give him anything that would prove to us that he is God… and what makes you think that you should be God’s PA, he doesn’t need a nanny to look out for him so his feelings don’t get hurt.
The other reason we don’t give him our biggest prayers is maybe we are worried that maybe God will disappoint us, remember Jesus said when he was talking about prayer “If your child asks you, his father, for a fish, would you give him a snake instead?”… you see EVEN if the answer is “no” God still wants the VERY best for you.
So are you living your “life in it’s fullness”?
You see it’s not about being reckless with your life and doing crazy things and hoping that God will pick you up… it’s about listening to the amazing things that God has placed on your heart… that Crazy thought that seems like it’s impossible to come to pass…
Well… pray BIG
Because God wants to show you his power and Glory will be to God.
One of the things that adds to the mystery of the whole Super Hero story is the whole hidden identity schtick. It’s cool, you always know when they’re ‘off duty’ because they haven’t got their capes on with their ultra slim fitting lycra clothes and undies on outside their pants.
It seems Super heroes and Christians have things in common, apart from the power inside (as mentioned in part 1) it also seems that they only show their power when they are wearing their super hero outfit.
A lot of Christians I know walk around not even knowing that the Holy Spirit is in them, they don’t know the power that God has promised, no wonder they are still worried about things, no wonder they still try to do things all by themselves, no wonder everything seems to go wrong in their lives.
But here’s the really crazy thing about these Christians, put them in a room with other Christians and they’re waving swords, and walking around all gung-ho, but in the real world (where it matters) they play mild mannered reporter.
Ok… so here is the thing… we should be putting on our super hero outfit EVERY day (the Armor of God) … we have to realize that we have the God given power within us. You see we should have our super senses always listening out for the promptings of the Holy Spirit because you never know when you’re going to be called to ‘duty’…
Are you spending you time in your ‘bat cave’ honing your skills? Are you reading Gods word and learning to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit (that are there to both keep you out of trouble and convict the hearts of those who you come in touch with)?
As you don your outfit each morning, as you prepare for the day putting on the armor of God, it’s a reminder that the one that has your back as you head out into the world… is the creator of the Universe… and that is something that most super heroes never had in the comics that I’ve read.
Ok… So I’m not ACTUALLY Ironman, I’m more like The Goose-man or something REALLY cool like that.
So what makes you think you’re a Super hero Mr Goose?
Well it’s elementary Dear Watson. You see, I came to the realization that most Super Heroes are just people who look like us, but they have ‘super powers’ that let them do REALLY cool things like… Super Strength, unlocking locked doors (that couldn’t be opened)… But they look just like us; The mild mannered reporter, or the poor photographer or rich businessman.
It seems that the most popular type of movie at the moment are all based on people living in society who have super powers of some sort… wizards, Marvel super heroes, vampires, werewolves, the list goes on. These are people who can do things that we could never do in real life… right?
Well… I believe you’re wrong!
When I read the Bible I read about people who, had angels guarding them and opening doors for them, people who had super human strength, people who could heal the un-healable, people who called down fire and stopped it raining… and these people were JUST LIKE US!
You see the only difference between these guys and us is they trusted in God… in the old testament they weren’t filled with the Holy Spirit but they knew that God was on their side, so they walked and talked boldly… in the New Testament they knew that they were filled with the Holy Spirit and were born again ‘a new creation’… in fact in Ephesian’s 3:20 Paul writes
“By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we could ever dare or ask or hope”
Now please hear me… we DO NOT have super powers so please do not throw yourself off a large building… (unless you can actually fly in which case, why would you stop!)
Although we do have the next best thing as Christians… God within us.
How did the apostles heal the sick, and break out of prison?
It certainly wasn’t because they had super powers it was because they had the Holy Spirit actively working within them, and when they listened and obeyed then God was able to move in the most wonderful ways. They walked with a swagger, a confidence, an assurance…
Do you have the confidence to be able to walk knowing that you are filled with the power of the God of the entire universe?
Do you have the assurance that when you die, it won’t be the end?
…. to be continued
I have been thinking about Evangelism and I’ve coming to a discovery of what evangelism isn’t.
Evangelism is not becoming the next Billy Graham, Ray Comfort, Charles Spurgeon or Dwight L. Moody. I have heard people who are coping the tools that some of these people used to open the Gospel message to people who were unfamiliar or in some cases had never heard the Gospel before… the problem is often it has no heart, it was only coping a text or podcast information. Sure it may have seemed logical but it had no real heart… it needs to be your words, your heart… because if the focus is correct, the prompting will be Spirit lead, and the heart behind it will be that of God.
Evangelism is not having a set of faith, rules and belief systems. It’s not about having a check list of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ questions and getting people to check boxes. It may be a good way to point out where a person may stand when judgement day comes… but if left only to that, it’s just an easy way for you to tell someone they’re going to Hell, there’s no emotion attached.
Evangelism is about knowing the story of Christ, and how it has related in your life, OUR lives, and passing that on to the people around us.
You see unless you know the impact that it’s made in your life, you’re only talking a basic theory. Unless you are relieved that you have been saved from an eternity separated from God & living in hell, then you’re only pointing to a fire exist that someone can use in case of emergency.
So what is YOUR story?
What has God been faithful to us in?
What miracles has God given to us in full, but we are still not living in?
This is YOUR story that God has given to ONLY YOU. All the other things that other evangelists use are part of THEIR story and THEIR growth, and THEIR tools that they have found helpful over the years. By all means use these tools and learn from the mistakes others have made before you… but don’t use them in lieu of Gods message and story he’s placed on your heart… use them as a starter or reference point, in telling your message, the way God called YOU to do it.
My eldest son Tim is a HARD CORE don’t mess with the facts type evangelist… and he’s only 7 years old. I mean the kid will talk to anyone anywhere about God. He asked my mother in law (who knows about God but it’s all head knowledge) “I’m sad that you’re not going to Heaven Granny”… other times he just says “Do you know Jesus?”…
One time we were driving in the car with my son sitting next to me… He asked “Is Sherry a Christian?“… now I knew that she was but I said “I’m not sure maybe you should ask her” to which he replied “But what if she’s not” “I’m not sure what do you think we should do” I quizzed… “We’d better turn round and get my Bible” my son said straight away.
We’ve had to teach my eldest when is the right time to do it, as he was just going up to anyone… which is great when you’re a kid as people politely palm you off… so we talked about being more subtle which is hard because we didn’t want to stomp out his natural evangelist talents, but then again, there’s a time and a place also.
My parents had a man come to their property to lay some huge tiles where their new fireplace was to go… My son walked in and saw his opportunity “I go to a Christian school” he said to the paver. “Phew we thought it looks like he’s been listening to us about being subtle. “But do you know WHY I go to a Christian school”… he used his situation as an ‘in’ a reason to talk about Christ.
Another time this time with a vinyl layer, my son walked in with his Bible and sat at the table and started to read it quietly to himself… he then looked at the vinyl layer and said “I like The Bible because it starts at the start of the world and goes all the way to the end of the world”
Now I can’t be sure but it seems that The Holy Spirit prompts my 7 year old as he say the right thing at the right time…
To be honest… it put’s my “God stuff talks” with people to shame…
It really brings to light the scripture “come to me like a child…”
I can learn so much from my kids… they say the darnedest things… about Eternity!
In New Zealand we have a long weekend, so an extra day added to the weekend to celebrate the Queens birthday. There is a couple of things that are pretty odd about this… we don’t really acknowledge the Queen for anything other than just a figure head, so she has no real power in the day to day running of NZ… and another odd things – it’s not even her birthday her real birthday is 21 April and we celebrate it in June .
But there are also a couple of really cool things about this celebration. Like we get an extra day off work, also the fact that it’s not really her birthday… it’s very Alice in Wonderland I think, very mad hatteresque. In Alice in Wonderland the Mad Hatter celebrate un-birthdays (so days that weren’t actually birthdays)…
It, (Alice in Wonderland & un-birthdays) combined with the Queens birthday celebration (that wasn’t actually her birthday) got me thinking.
If we as Christians put as much focus on our ‘new birth’ days… the day in which we made the decision to follow Christ and are born again, as we do in our physical birthday (the day we were born into this world!). Do you even know your ‘new birth’ day?
In the Bible it says that even the angels celebrate the decision we make, and Jesus even talked about a mansion with lots of rooms and one is there for us… yet for a lot of us even though it will be the most significant thing we do (in light of eternity)… the date, the time, the moment can sort of fade into the recesses of our minds… it’s something we know we have done, but other than that, it becomes a ritual moment… something we did just because.
So wouldn’t it be cool to remember and celebrate the day we assured ourselves a place in heaven, a place in the presence of God for Eternity.
Happy ‘NEW BIRTH’ day to you!!!