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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

unity part 2

so now that i am back from the conference what does this unity look like? I said that it was like a little peek of what it must of been like in Acts when they shared everything, not keeping things for themselves, but giving as needed. I was even offered a car to drive from someone i had literally just met! When she heard that I was going to walk somewhere to get lunch she simple said' take my car'. But it seems easier to walk in unity at a conference where everything is pointing you to God and to focus on Him and His love. Now back home I am called to walk in that same spirit of unity. When I am having a rough day, when i feel under pressure, when others dont sem to be loving well- still im called to love as if they were myself. When it is not so easy to see Jesus in people, I am still called to love- not with a fuzzy feeling but with tangible actions. When someone is smelly, or has a characheristic that annoys me these are times where I cannot ignore the very prayer of Jesus but I have to still love, still give as if it was I that needed. But it can be hard and I think it must all come down to Jesus being our everything. Me not letting little distractions to take a place that they shouldnt have, to make a mountain out of a mole hill.Jesus give me eyes to see the Jesus in others, no matter differences or surrounding circumstances. And guard my heart that you may be my everything and nothing else.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Unity

So a few weeks ago I went to an IHOP conference. How it came about was all rather random and surreal. About two weeks before the conference I look online to find some kind of young adult Christian group. I end up finding a social event for younf adults going on at a church and with a hunger for fellowship and friendship I go find this church. After watching a movie together and conversing I was invited to go to an IHOP conference with them. I love the heart of IHOP and so i jumped onboard and went along for the ride!So i find myself two weeks after excepting the invitation, driving to a conferencve with a group of people I have never met and a few that I have met once. And I started to think about the beauty of this family of God. Ever since I was a child I have sung about being a child of God and being in his family. However, it has only been in the past two years that I have really started realising the implications of that. It didnt matter that I had never met these people before, inside of each other we saw something that we new so well- The spirit of God. And as we began talking about passion for prayer and cities to be captivated by Jesus and as we sang to the same God, I felt at home- surrounded by family. Then one of the nights at the conference, as I was in the back dancing and enjoying being in the presence of God, I started to look around, to take in the beauty of all these children of God coming together. I saw young and old, black and white, fat and thin. I saw people kneeling, people jumping, being swirling, people standing with their head transfixed above. I heard yelps and laughed, and cries of sorrow in repentance, whispered prayers and shouted prayers.So many differences, so many diversities, yet that was the beauty of it. There was no sense of seperation because of it. What mattered was the same, the heartbeats were one, the hunger was for the same, the one being pursued and romanced with was the same Lover. I dont think that the picture there was too much different from the picture we have of the early church in acts. I have always wondered how all those people had everything in common, but as I was taking this beautiful scene in, I realised that all those differences were irrelevent, that dispite them we trully had everything in God. That it is Christ who is to be our everything, when he is our heartbeat, the end that we are hungering after all the other stuff will fade from the forefront.As the children's song goes 'when the Jesus in me sees the Jesus in you it's so easy to love'. I have always thought this song wasn't true. That it wasn't easy to love. But the truth is that it is only hard to love when we are so focussed on the other things in someones life that we forget that what matters is the Jesus in them. You could dye your hair green and they could dye theirs pink. You could like metal and they could like folk but if your heart cries out for Jesus and their heart cries out for Jesus you won't be able to help but have everything in common.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Pray for the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe.

Right now, Zimbabwe is reeling from the worst cholera epidemic* on the African continent in over a decade, one that has already infected more than 50,000 people, more than half of whom are children. Already the disease has killed over 2,700.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dietrich Bonhoffer on real grace:

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions orfixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing.... 45
Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian 'conception' of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins.... In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God. 45-46
Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. 'All for sin could not atone.' Well, then, let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world’s standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin....
Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. 47
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man’ will gladly go and self all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.
Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

A very beautiful song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QujJlmGxges

The Fat Spirit

This is what I preached on last Sunday. The dream was a dream God gave Danielle Strickland. The analogy of the car and of the women is S.O.S. are also from her. God is teaching me this- the fat spirit, can seem so harmless, just a little bit of comfort, just a little bit of rest. But this kind of rest, is rest away from, outside of God and that is far from harmless. We have to fight the temptation to rest in the comforts of this world and of our western culture. The way God is calling me to fight is by tithing my time. By getting up early and setting 10 percent of my time for him, which is 2:40 hrs. What is He calling you to do?

Dream:My friend went through a doorway but on the doorway there was a spider wed with a fat hairy spider. She didn’t see it, and before she know it, it had bitten her. Suddenly she got really sleeping and tired. In the room there was a cot and she lay down but she became paralyzed, yet was still away. Then these little spiders began to fill the room and attack her. Even though she was awake on the inside, because she was paralyzed she couldn’t fight them off and she ended up being consumed by them.
T

his fat hairy spider is what my friend calls the fat spirit and it represents the world. It is a Spirit that is very large and prevalent in this Western world that we live in and many have been bitten by it

Even in the name we get a hint of what this spirit is about. It’s about fatness, richness, being full, not going in want (in the way that the world wants). It’s about greed, and lust for more, and stuff, and status and it’s about comfort. It represents the World and in Luke 8.14 we are warned that the World’s pleasures, worries and riches can choke God’s life out of us, leaving no place for growth to happen:

‘The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.’

The warning in the dream that my friend had was just that, just as the verse talks about not maturing, the fat spirit left my friend in a stagnant place where she couldn’t grow, fight or move.
Poisonous spiders don’t just do damage with there teeth, but they poison and pollute the person, the poison gets into the blood and pretty soon, if not treated, it makes its way through all of the person’s blood stream, infecting not just one area, but the whole person. There is a reason why we are commanded in the Word to keep ourselves unspotted from the World. It is because when we don’t, when we allow the World to take a bit out of us, to have a piece of us, when we are not alert and don’t protect ourselves from the poison of this world, we will become infected with the World and the spirit of the World.

Just to let you know, it is a lie that you can control sin. Sin will control you. You cannot allow sin into your life in just one area and expect it to not affect all of who you are. It will pollute you, choke you and paralyze you.

But maybe that isn’t the way that the fat spider will bite you, maybe it comes by just becoming immune to sin, even if we are not taking part of it ourselves. Maybe we just become so influenced by our culture that we are lethargic, numb and too paralyzed to make a difference, to fight, and to be used effectively for God.

The warning in the dream was that it was when she became tired and lethargic that she lay down to sleep and then because she became paralyzed, she couldn’t fight and ended up being consumed. We have to fight the temptation to sleep! It may start by just numbing us a little bit, it may start by us seeking God a little less, or seeking to be used by Him a little less, but just as spider poison spreads through the blood so will the poison of the world and if we allow ourselves to sleep, if we give up, if we cease to fight, we shall be consumed.

If we have fallen asleep of if we are becoming numb we have to wake up. Richard Baxter was quoted, saying: ‘if their houses were on fire, thou wouldst run and help them; and will thou not help them when their souls are almost at the fire of hell?’

Just because we cannot see danger with our physical eye, does not mean it is any less real, or any less serious. If you were about to fall asleep at the wheel driving you would not go without a fight, we need to fight just as hard to stay awake spiritually.

Let’s think about some of the things you might do to try and not fall asleep at the wheel. You might do some crazy things. Things that aren’t comfortable and that you wouldn’t really do for the fun of it but at that point you realize the importance of not falling asleep and will do whatever it takes to stay awake and not crash. Windows down, head out of the window, music blasting etc.
What are the uncomfortable things that you need to do awake from your spiritual slumber? Are you prepared to step outside of your comfort zone? Do you ask God to stretch your comfort zone, to move you further on in your faith? Do you look for opportunities to share the good news of the gospel? What place does reading the Word, and fasting have in your life? ( fasting- thoughts etc) How hard are you fighting on your knees?

John Wesley- Bear up the hands that hang down, by faith and prayer support the tottering knees. Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein and mercy will come down.

Revelation 8.3-5 we have a visual picture of the power of prayer:3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.’
Faithful prayer has a powerful effect. There is a battle going on to keep us off our knees but as 1 Tim 6.12 says ‘fight the good fight of the Faith’. Don’t give up, don’t stop seeking, don’t stop crying out, seek Him until…seek him until, seek him until you find him, seek him until you find him in every area of your life.

James Gilmour (missionary in Mongolia) warned against resting in this world too much and instead, encouraged Christians to not be satisfied with anything less than all that God has for us –
‘Do we not rest in our day to much on the arm of flesh? Can not the same wonders be done now as of old? Do not the eyes of the Lord still run too and through the whole earth to show himself strong on behalf of those who put their trust in Him? Oh, that God would give me more practical faith in Him! Where is now the Lord God of Elijah? He is waiting for Elijah to call on Him’

We are called to seek God:
HOSEA 10.12 (A)Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; (B)Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to (C)seek the LORD Until He (D)comes to (E)rain righteousness on you.

The young lions lack and suffer hunger; But those who seek the LORD shall not lack any good thing. Ps 34.10

And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. Ps 9.10

What will be the results of us seeking?

Ps 107.9 ‘For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things’

Ps 22.26 ‘The poor will eat and be satisfied; they that seek the Lord will praise Him’

Ps 63.5 ‘My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my lips will praise you’

Ps 34.5 ‘Those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces are never covered in shame’

Ps 40.16 ‘But may all who seeks you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “The Lord be exalted”.

Jeremiah 29.13 ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’

Michael Brown says: “ The struggle is for your faith. Persistent prayer is the ultimate combat zone. Israel would not be saved without it. The world would not be evangelized without it. The church would not become spotless without it. A passing petition or a fleeting prayer will not bring these things about! But no faith of prayer is ever in vain. No doubt this nation is in a wretched state. No doubt, the world as a whole is growing darker. No doubt our race staggers from disaster to disaster. The need has never been greater. But this is not the time for depression and hopeless despair. It is the time for the church to finally be the church: the living embodiment of the Son of God, “the fullness of Him who fills everything in everyway” It is time for the Lord to get himself glory. He will gain glory though each of us. As Catherine Booth said, “The waters are rising but so am I. I am not going under, but over”.
The world whether it knows it or not is counting on you and me. There is no other source that offers true healing outside of the people of God. Of course the task before us is impossible and whether we are fighting against the spread of pornography or working to alleviate hunger, whether our burden is foreign missions or home evangelism, whether our ministry is healing the sick, or setting free, drug addicts, there is only one place to go: to our knees, saints! On your faces, children of God! To the place of prayer, holy intercessors! Seek him always! Seek him with tears! Seek Him earnestly!Psalm 63.1 says’ O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Hunger and thirst for the Lord. Long for Him with a love sick heart. Let it be known by your prayer life that you cannot and will not live without more- radically more- of God.”

In Songs of Songs we have this picture of the woman sleeping and her lover comes and knocks for her but she hesitates- you see it’s messy and uncomfortable- she is already in bed, must she goes through getting out of bed and getting changed? But she gets up and she pursues him. The women went through a lot before she found her love but even in the hardships and the pain, she didn’t go back to bed, she was fully alive!

God is knocking; he is trying to waken us from the slumber. He has love and life to give. It is hearing the knock and pursuing God. Will we get up, will we fight, will we pursue? Will we seek?

Will we arise, and like Catherine Booth said, instead of drowning in our sleepiness, will we rise above, when the waves come?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The hunger for God should never fade.

' If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation for the glory of God it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satified. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world' - John Piper