Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gap Camp

I came back late last night from a few days speaking at a camp for teens.
What a wonderful experience. It was such a privilege to be able to share with the young people some truths that Jesus has been revealing to me over the last while.

I was asked to speak on the Father Heart of God. Jonny who helped run the camp figured that topic would suit me down to the ground and he couldn't have been more on the case.
We had 5 sessions to explore the topic.
The first session we looked at the parable of the lost son which is in fact more about the fathers heart than the son's waywardness. It was so great being able to share with the young people the outrageous abundance of love the Father has for them.
One of Satan's biggest ploy is the convince us that God isn't for us and that God doesn't like us, we looked at how Jesus knew who his father was and wanted his audience to get it. to get the outrageous unconditional underserving love the Father has for us. God doesn't want our rehearsed religion when we turn to him he just wants us, a true relationship with us.

The second session we looked at the older son in the story of the prodigal son and his bad theology. His thinking that the Father was a check box, rule keeping kind of guy. He had kept all the rules but still didn't understand his Father. He's a tragic case and one we fall into all the time, not just accepting and being in the midst of our Fathers presence, instead of this we try to earn his love etc. When we know our Father we can't help but want to see other people see that love and come into the realisation of it - rather than begrudge them and think they don't deserve it until they do certain things.
we then mainly focused on Jesus and why the Father sent him to earth to be in our darkness and to ultimately die for us, and raise from the dead to set us free from the bondage of satan. We looked at the importance of understanding God in terms of the trinity and how everything flows from that relationship. The eternal purpose of the Father has always been to include us in the trinity, to adopt us as his children. Jesus did not come to this earth to reconcile God to man, he came to reconcile man to God. What that means is that he didn't come to convince God that we were ok, convince a God who doesn't really like us to let us into to heaven, NO; he came to convince us of the Fathers absolutely unending love for us and change our views of him to see him as he really is. That can only bring us to our knees in repentance, to turn around like the prodigal son and know the Father embraces and welcomes us with joy.

The third session was on suffering and were our Father is when it hurts. Ultimately we looked at the fact that God's will is not the only will that effects what goes on in the world and we explored a few scriptures which examine this fact. Our Father is with us in the midst of our pain, he can bring goodness out of it, it doesn't mean that he causes it. God has never needed to use evil to bring about good. The question is how do we respond to our sufferings when we know our Fathers heart for us and how can we let God work through us to minister to others as well as ourselves. Are we willing to let God love us and heal us?

Fourthly we looked at spending time with God and the importance of it. We looked at how Jesus used to spend time alone with his Father. We need to spend time with our Father to know who he is and to rest in his presence. When Jesus heard John the Baptist died he wanted to spend time alone, a few thousand people followed him, he felt compassion and fed them. However after this he still went and found a place on his own to spend time with his Father. I love how Jesus used to do that. He knew what his Father thought of him and he needed to be around the source of all goodness and truth to empower him in his ministry. we came up with some practical ways in how to spend time with God.

Lastly we talked about what worship is. Worship is a way of life and a reflection of what we think about Jesus. We spoke about the use of music in worship and how it can help us experience Jesus. Above all worship is about declaring who God is; he is good and holy and always worthy of our praise. It is not about how we feel but about God. We explored it and then we went into a time of worship where the young people got to lay at the feet of Jesus the things that he had spoken to them over the last couple of days. A time to praise him for who he is and what he has done and a time to allow him to minister to us. It was powerful.

I'm praying that the young people take away the truth of what God spoke to them and believe it and allow it to sink in. And above all that they will live their lives to bring glory to him and bring the love and light of Jesus to those around them. He is so much bigger and greater than we can ever imagine.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Miracles

My wife and I were talking over lunch today; I took the day off work to hang out with her. No one better to hang out with, good times.
The conversation turned to Jesus, as it tends to do quite a lot. We were wondering if my friends handbag that was stolen was returned amongst many other things. Praying for someones handbag to be returned can seem so inconsequential to us; but to Jesus it's not. Mind you, this handbag had a passport and a green card in it, so it was pretty valuable.
We've been seeking out who Jesus really is in our lives and wanting to experience so much more than a Jesus who is a ticket to heaven. Last week, we had a wonderful experience. We were due to fly out to Houston, Texas on a Friday for my dear friends wedding, however on Wednesday I get a text from Jane while I'm at work to tell me she has the chicken pox. Not cool. It was pretty bad, we prayed about it that night cause obviously we both really wanted her to go.
Thursday I went to work and when I came home the reality sunk in that Jane wouldn't be able to go to Texas cause she was covered in spots and looked pretty mingin! That evening we were praying and I was saying how I felt so bad for praying for healing of chicken pox when there are people out there who need healing from things that are far more serious than that. God reminded me though that he cares about Janes chicken pox and it's not his will that we get sick. We have been thinking so much lately about how most things done in church can be done whether God is there or not. Not that they aren't effective, but where is the actually reliance on God. The reliance on God to do something that we CANNOT do. So we were thinking about it for our lives so we asked God to show us a miracle. To take away the chicken pox overnight. We wanted to see the work of our Father the healer.
Friday morning we woke up and yep, the spots were gone. I was amazed. Jane felt a million times better and we were just astounded at God's power and that he cares about us that deeply.
We had an absolutely brilliant time in Texas.
The reason I'm writing about this is that I don't think it right to keep it to ourselves. Now there are so many factors going on as to why people are healed and not healed and another time, she or I might not get healed; but that is not due to the lack of power on God's part that is due to the complexity of a universe of free will and I'm not writing this to argue such points.
I just want to give testimony to what God did and want to thank him for it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

upside down kindgom

I listened to a Greg Boyd sermon this morning and it was so powerful. It's called "The Kingdom: it's really upside down". You should listen to it for yourself. Whether you agree with Boyd's theology or not, you can't fault with his passion for Jesus and his wanting to bring the kingdom and inspire people to bring the kingdom of God wherever they go.
The main premise of the talk was on Luke 14:1-11 and he spoke about reaching out to the poor and those in need. I will not do it an ounce of justice by writing about it here. Take a listen here. If you don't have the time to listen to all 50 minutes, make sure you listen to the last 20 minutes. I was crying like a baby in my car at 8am this morning driving to work. Jesus calls us to so much more that we give. Listening to a man weep about his kid who had no friends in school or about how his church, unbeknownst to them where unkind to a disabled girl and asking for forgiveness gives a huge picture into the heart of God.
It's a hard prayer to pray for a will that is inconvenienced by what God asks of me; but i want it. I want God to whip me out of my comfort zone so that along with my wife we can bring the kingdom to those in the margins.

Which is more scandalous?

Luke 7:36-50 speaks of Jesus having his feet washed by a whore in Simon Peters house. An incredibly intimate moment and a service that would have been characteristic of a duty a wife would perform for her husband. There is a huge lesson in how Jesus speaks to Simon Peter, criticising his inaction and attitude; but the question I ask is which is more scandalous, that Jesus would dare to affirmingly accept the woman? or that the woman would dare assert herself in such a way?