Monday, May 25, 2009

New Zealand; till we meet again...

Our last night in New Zealand. Can't believe our time here has finished. It's been our home away from home and we're really sad to leave here. Of course looking forward to the next part of the journey, but this part has been so incredibly significant for us. Specifically for our individual walks with Jesus, our walk together with Him and also myself and Jane as a couple. God has been more gracious and near than we could have possibly imagined. He is constantly reminding us that he's so much more gracious, loving, merciful and kind than we can fathom.
We're currently in Auckland. Yesterday we had the awesome pleasure of meeting up with a couple of very good friends (Jay & Erin) of our very good friends (Ferg and Sarah-Jane). So lovely to chat with people who get it. Their love for Jesus is so tangible and resultantly so is their want to bring Jesus to those around them. All aspects of the saving power of Jesus, not just a golden ticket to heaven. It was humbling and inspiring to hear their hearts. I hope we meet again.
At church we had another randomer come up to us with a word from God! It's nearly funny at this stage how much God is speaking to us. He came over to us at the end of church last night and said he had seen us at the earlier service and God told him very clearly to tell us something. He was bang on and it was really encouraging.
Today we had another amazing opportunity to meet a friend of Ferg & Sarah-Jane's called Judith. The love of Jesus is all over that woman and we had such a cool time chatting with her. We could have talked all day. It didn't harm that the coffee and chocolate cake in the coffee shop we were in were exceptionally tasty! It was so great to talk to someone across the other side of the world who has a huge heart for Ireland. We're excited about the possibility that we can be involved in some way with what God is doing at home. He's on the move and we want to be a part of what he's doing in bringing his kingdom to our land.
I've no doubt we're going to have an amazing time in the States and it'll be so different to here because God is a God of new things and continued adventure. Bring it...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

from the inside out...

Tuesday we left Wanaka, but not before we had to do something very significant. It’s been on Jane’s heart for a long time and especially lately the importance of baptism. Jane was baptised as a baby but God has been gently leading her to a place where she felt it was right to be baptised as a believing adult. As she has been a testimony for so long now in her walk with God it wasn’t so much for this reason that she decided to do it but more in obedience to God and as a declaration to the heavens that she is a child of the King.
We really wanted to do it in Wanaka as it holds a special place in our hearts so we went down to the lake very early on our second to last morning there. It was freezing. It had snowed hard the night before and we were like ice. Poor Jane! And me I may add as I had to do the dunking!! It was an awesome experience. I was so proud of her taking that step. It can seem insignificant but the symbolism and declaration of baptism has such power. It was a fitting way to end our time in Wanaka, and also pretty funny as we looked like two lunatics and probably sounded like them too with our yelping from the cold! We actually had been thinking of using the jacuzzi that was in our caravan park, but there was something about that that didn’t quite sit right!
We met our friends later for coffee which was great. Better than great actually, they are such an amazing encouragement and so real. The coffee place closed, but they decided we hadn’t finished talking yet so we went to the place where one of the guys works to keep chatting. The chatting turned into praying as he told us we had words for them from God. Turned out we did even though we didn’t know it. When we rid ourselves of our pride and being self-conscious it’s amazing what God can say through us. We also had a chat about church and realised that what we were doing right there was church. Praying, encouraging, giving testimonies, laughing, near crying, being raw and honest, and having good coffee - that’s church! It doesn’t have to be enclosed in four walls with a 30 minute talk and 3 songs. That’s a meeting. Church is community and people being real and themselves. Hopefully we can get it right and incorporate our Sunday morning meetings into church!
The last word Darren had for us was to go out and just do it. Heal the sick, cast out demons, words of knowledge for people, and love all over people like only Jesus can. It’s about being obedient to God and being up for bringing the kingdom wherever we go. We can get so caught up in theologising everything and putting things in formula’s and boxes that we forget that God is outrageously bigger and better than we ever give him credit for and for some reason he wants to use us to do his will. What’s his will?
On earth as it is in heaven....

Monday, May 18, 2009

I don't want to talk about Him like He's not in the room

I can't believe our time in Wanaka is near over. We've been here 6 weeks today and it has by far been the highlight of our time away. We've been blessed this past week with being able to stay in a house with a friend from church although she's been away for most of the time. It's been great to have a bit of space. It'll be strange getting back in the van tomorrow morning to live in for another week.
We know God is taking us on a journey and has been speaking to us constantly. One of our prayers has been to see a miracle and for God to open our eyes to the supernatural. A couple of weeks ago we both saw an angel at church. Just sitting there down the back. It was one of those moments were I thought I was making it up until afterwards I said to Jane 'I think I saw an angel at church tonight' and she said 'Down the back on the left?'. 'eh...yep!'.
Friday night we were over with friends having an extremely tasty dinner and great chats. Hearing some of their stories was so encouraging. Having words for strangers they meet in shops and on the street. I love that kindof stuff. Not just 'Jesus loves you' words (Which can be awesome) but significant specific words. Such as Darren in a petrol station and God told him the guy behind the counter had just tried to commit suicide a few days previous and cried out to God 'if you're there, show me'. So Darren, freaked told his wife and of course had that feeling of 'man, I can't say that to this kid'. He obeyed and said it. He said to the kid 'God told me you tried to end your life and you wanted a sign from God. Well I'm it and we should talk'. How cool is that. That is what God is all about. Reaching into the depths of our pain and telling us he loves us. The kid left the counter crying his eyes out and Darren got to tell him about the amazing love and salvation he can have in Jesus.
In the conversation it came up that my back hurts, especially when I walk. Usually I hear from behind me 'Hey 2pac!' from Jane as I have this strange little limp bounce thing going on cause my left leg is shorter than the other. She says I look like a homie when I walk! All my jeans have these annoying rips on my left leg. Anyways, the guys we were with just said 'lets pray for it'. So I lay flat against the wall, put my legs side by side and my left was maybe a half inch shorter. We started praying and BAM my leg moves; half way there. We were all laughing so hard. We kept praying and Jane's reaction when it moved again was the best. Herself and Darren both said 'Did you see that?' and broke their hearts laughing. So my leg grew out and I felt the difference all day yesterday as I was walking.
You know the only sad thing about it though? I didn't want to write about it because I know that so many reading will think 'yeah whatever, a leg growing out; you're such a sucker'. Well, I don't care because I know it was the healing power of God. We then prayed for Jane's belly. She's had this pain every single night for the past 6 months. It can get real bad and very frustrating. We prayed for it and the presence of God was so tangible and God healed it. One girl definitely had the gift of healing as everytime she prayed or touched Jane her belly went crazy!
So God answered our prayers! We thought the miracle would be for someone else, we didn't realise it would be for us! We just want to walk in faith now and be able to bring Jesus into all situations that we're in.
Wanaka has been such an amazing experience and we're so excited for the next part of the journey.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

The feel good movie of the year

Am I the only person who thinks that the above quote is a complete lie. How was I meant to feel good watching that movie? I had waited a while to see it and we eventually watched it a couple of nights ago and man we felt like the life had been sucked out of us. I won't go into details of the movie in case someone reading hasn't seen it but there is so much in that movie to not feel good about, a boy winning "who wants to be a millionaire" didn't trump any of the depressing scenes we had to sit through to get to it. And right before the final question is a dreadful scene and then we see everyone dancing around in a train station. It just gave me a really uneasy feeling in my stomach.
Apologies to all who 'loved' it. I really liked it until I actually saw it! I had read reviews and it seemed so great and such a cool story line but I was thoroughly disappointed. Wolverine on the other hand was awesome!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hebrews 11

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

I love Hebrews 11. An amazing chapter about the hero's of the faith. Faith not just being belief, but faith being action. Realising that God is real and that he is more than worth living for and giving up everything for.
I love thinking upon and talking about the Old Testament characters. Myself and Jane have been doing a lot of Old Testament reading. However I've been struck by something. When I think about David I always think of him dancing like crazy for God, slaying lions and bears with his bare hands, defeating Goliath, being so raw and honest with God and so much more about this man after God's own heart BUT I always think about his failings too. Especially at the forefront of my thinking is his adultery and subsequent killing of an innocent man. When I think of Noah of course I think of the ark but I also think of him naked and drunk in a tent and his son Ham's discovery of him shamed. Moses missed out on the promised land, Sarah laughed at God, Jephtah made a stupid promise to God and had his daughter killed and so on and on and on.
The thing that is so remarkable about Hebrews 11 is that there is NO mention of the sins of these men and women. They are hailed for their faith. Infact it says in verse 39 that
the world was not worthy of them

Do you see how outrageous God is that He looks upon the faith of these people. Not the mistakes not the foolish things they did that grieved his heart. He's far above our human ways of looking at people. Like a Father with a child he thinks upon all the things that made him proud. That is how God is with us when we live a life of faith, earnestly chasing after Him for His glory and fame.
"I, even I, am he who blots out
your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more."
Isaiah 43:25

Will we be commended by Jesus for our faith? Is our Father proud of us? Is the Spirit empowering us? All we can do is fix our eyes on Jesus, know that all of heaven is cheering us on and remember that God is much better than we can possibly imagine and that faith in Him is so worth it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

grace makes beauty out of ugly things

Another week flies by. I think this past week was the quickest ever, seemed like 3 days and not 7! We had such a great time pretty much doing the same thing everyday. Reading, lunch, coffee, reading, dinner, reading, west wing, bed.
We're loving being blessed with having so much time. I don't think we've ever been so relaxed and just enjoying chilling out. God is still speaking to us so much and we're learning more and more every day. We've learned so much it's hard to keep up.
I had the privilege of speaking at church last night. I was asked to speak on what God has been teaching us. I feared I could have spoken all night so I narrowed it down to 3 things. Our identity in Christ, obedience to God/being the kingdom, and resting with the Father. Three things that have been key for us to learn while we've been away. We're just praying that we can apply them at home when we get back into the busyness of life.
We have a week left in Wanaka and then we drive to the north island and fly out to LA on May 26th. We will definitely be leaving here with a sadness in our hearts but we're looking forward to another adventure in the states. The weather has turned so well definitely be looking forward to some sun. It's pretty cold sleeping in a van when it's snowing outside.
We drove up to the top of one of the ski mountains to check it out. I don't think Jane actually thought I'd throw a snowball at her while she was taking a photo, her reaction was very entertaining. Wish I had a photo of that instead of my laughter...

Jane wasn't laughing as hard as I was!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

If you are...

I was blown away yesterday when reading Luke 4. There is so much to that passage that I could blog on it for days. From identity, to abandon for God, to compassion for people, to healing and deliverance, to fasting and also Jesus needing a rest. So rich.
One of the main things that jumped out at me was at the start of chapter 4 when Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit was led to the desert when the devil tempted him for 40 days (40 days!) and he was fasting. What struck me was what Satan said to him first.

"If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread"

I have always thought and heard of this temptation as being focused on the food and our sustenance . Of course this is true as Jesus reply states that "Man does not live on bread alone" but what really struck me was the first word

IF you are the Son of God. Satan is so clever. Trying to put doubt in Jesus mind. Mary and Joseph would have told Jesus the stories of his birth, Satan was nudging "Are you sure it happened that way?" "Maybe your parents exaggerated the events". Jesus knew there was a call on his life "Are you sure your ministry will work, are people really going to be saved this way?". Jesus had just been told by his Father that he is pleased with Him, Satan was prying "Is your Father really pleased with you?". Jesus knew his call to die, Satan was saying "When you die, is your Father really going to raise you from the dead?"

Now of course these aren't the exact thoughts of Jesus but they are what Satan wanted Jesus to think. He wanted him to doubt his identity. That is exactly what he wants to do to us. How often do we doubt who we are in Christ. How often do we say "I'm such a filthy sinner" thinking that this kind of self-depreciation is pleasing to a Holy God. How often do we doubt the call on our life. "There's no way I could do that, God couldn't use me. I'm not worthy." And how often do we doubt that God even likes us. We're told we're so rotten and horrible in the sight of God by Christians (shame on them) that we feel that we cannot even come to Him even though Jesus has made the way. There's still that lingering bit of shame, or that sin we did a few years ago, or even yesterday. The doubt that God has spoken words of love over us. The first thing Satan said in the garden was "Did God really say...?"

Lies lies lies. We need to stop doubting who we are. Doubt is the forerunner to unbelief which is the opposite of faith and Paul says in Romans 14:23 "whatever is not from faith is sin". It's time for us to believe who we are in Christ and run with it. We can't run the race by constantly doubting ourselves and therefore denying the truth of what God has said about us in scripture. Last night while this was fresh in my mind I was remembering a blog I wrote here centered around this theme. It contains a list Greg Boyd wrote in his book Seeing Is Believing about who we are in Christ. Currently he is doing a series related to this called 'Animate' and he has updated the list of who we are in Christ. Take a read, believe it and let your mind be transformed (Romans 12:2).

∙ God’s beloved child (Jn 1:12/ Eph 1:5)
∙ Christ’s dear friend (Jn 15:5)
∙ Declared perfectly righteous (“justified”) (Rom 5:1)
∙ Free from condemnation (Rom 8:1)
∙ United with Christ, “one spirit” with Christ (I Cor 6:17;Eph5:31)
∙ A member of Christ’s body (I Cor 6:15/ 12:27)
∙ The Temple of God (I Cor 6:19)
∙ Filled with the “fullness of God” (Eph 3:19)
∙ A “holy one” [saint] (Eph 1:1)
∙ Blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3)
∙ Holy and blameless (Eph 1:4)
∙ Bought with an infinite price and forgiven (I Cor 6: 20; Eph 1:7; Col.1:14)
∙ Bathed with wisdom and understanding (Eph 1:8)
∙ Possessed with the mind of Christ (I Cor 2:16)
∙ Inseparable from God’s love (Rom 8:35‐39)
∙ One who will NEVER be abandoned (Mt 28:20)
∙ The beautiful bride of Christ who “ravishes” the heart of God (Song of Songs, 4:1ff; 6:4ff).
∙ One over whom the Lord rejoices, sings and claps (Zeph 3:17)
∙ One for whom the Lord throws a party (Zeph 3:17; Lk 15:7‐10)
∙ A recipient of God’s own peace (Jn 14:27)
∙ Filled with the peace and joy of God (Rom 14:17)
∙ One in whom Christ’s joy is fulfilled (Jn 15:11)
∙ Given direct access to the Father by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18)
∙ Seated with Christ in heavenly realms (Eph 2:6)
∙ Hid in Christ in heavenly realms (Col 3:1‐5)
∙ Crucified, buried and raised with Christ (Rom 6:1‐11;)
∙ Made perfect forever (Heb 10:14)
∙ Made complete in Christ (Col 2:10)
∙ Indwelled by a fearless Spirit (2 Tim 1:7)
∙ One of God’s precious works of art (Eph 2:10)
∙ Indwelt by a spirit of power, love and stability (2 Tim 1:7)
∙ A citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20)
∙ Predestined to look like Jesus and see him in his glory (Rom 8:29; I Jn 3:1‐5)
∙ God is working to bring good out of evil (Rom 8:28)
∙ Salt of the earth (Mt 5:13)
∙ A branch chosen to bear fruit (Jn 15:16)
∙ A co‐worker with God (I Cor 3:9)
∙ An ambassador of Christ and minister of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17‐20)
∙ A priest of the most high God ( I Pet 2:5‐9)
∙ More than a conqueror in all things (Rom 8:37);
∙ One who can do all things in Christ (Phil 4:13)