Monday, 28 November 2011

A lump in the throat moment...

I’ve been thinking about the girl who I met yesterday – moments before I met her, she had decided to commit her life to Jesus. When I heard the news, I said ‘...ah cool!’

Understatement of the year!

If you think about it, this is an unbelievable piece of info. This girl’s life and eternity has just been totally and utterly transformed. For EVER. I don’t know what her past looks like. I’m not sure what she’s done with the twenty-something years to date – what horrible sins she might have committed, or what ‘good deeds’ she thought she’d notched up along the way. It actually matters not any longer. The slate got wiped completely clean for this girl yesterday. Totally and irrevocably washed clean – it is absolutely amazing. ‘Ah cool’ doesn’t even begin to cut it. I can’t even fathom the celebrations in Heaven when she prayed that prayer, asking Jesus to become her Saviour once and for all. The hush that surrounded thousands and thousands and thousands of Angels as she stepped forward from her seat and approached a member of the prayer team – the anticipation, as they waited with baited breath. Jesus may have leaned forward slightly with the expectation - gripping the arms of His throne with excitement. It had been a moment earmarked on the calendar up there for quite some time, I’d imagine.

When it was sealed with an ‘Amen’, the roar must have been deafening.
Well, not sure where to start. God decided to smack me for 6 today. 

There are lots of things I could remark on from today... from the generosity of my friends and family; or maybe meeting a girl who had literally just committed her life to Him; or maybe seeing a father, mother & son getting baptised at the same time -  it has been a remarkable day. 

His goodness never ends. Never. 

When I think of the people I got to spend my birthday with today, my mind and heart are arrested by this unbelievable goodness. He didn't need to save me - I needed Him to - and He chooses to respond, daily. So to witness people receiving that truth for themselves, as I witnessed this morning, makes for THE most beautiful birthday present. 

Here's to what comes next over the next 12 months...I am so ready.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The below was sent to me by a good mate, and is taken from something the late David Wilkersen once commented on.

‘God’s last-day church will go “out and preach everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs” (Mark 16 v20). That is what God envisions for us.

The miracles of this last-day church will be genuine, indisputable, undeniable, and yet they will not be well known. Instead, they will issue forth from the hands of ordinary, holy, separated saints who know God and are intimate with Jesus.

These believers will emerge from the secret closet of prayer— a small, prepared army full of faith, with no other desire than to do the will of God and glorify Him. They will be fearless and powerful in prayer. They will open entire nations for the gospel and God will confirm His Word by their mighty deeds!’

This comes after having had my mind blown by watching Furious Love last night. Many had raved about it to me, but I had only managed to recently get hold of a copy. To say that it made me want to get off my lard arse and do something for God’s Kingdom, is an understatement. I’m tired of not experiencing more of God. I’m so used to hearing stories about others experiencing Him in the darkest of places. I heard last night of hundreds of Christians who were secretly killed in a small town in India – the media were never given the opportunity to report on it, so only Heaven really knows about their sacrifice for what they believe in.

It makes me wonder…if these people can refuse a Jesus-denial, even when a machete is held to their throats, what is my reward going to look like in Heaven in comparison? I can rarely even engage my friends/ colleagues in discussion about Him – we have it SO easy over here! We say that Jesus is our all – along with the money, promotion, comfort, relationships, sex, food etc etc. But for these people, left worshipping in the aftermath…He literally IS their all.

The easiest thing we could do to start readdressing this imbalance, is to start praying. Lots. And lots. But even that will undoubtedly be effected by a TV schedule, a pub trip, a dopey commute or just plain laziness! Not exactly a machete to the throat or a club to the face now is it.

What incredibly large idols need torpedoing in order for you to see through the fog of the West and give Him your everything?

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

So last night was fairly significant for us. We announced that our burgeoning Life Group was going to become two in a few weeks time – with two amazing new leaders stepping into some new shoes in the process.

Whenever God chooses to work through something, it’s powerful.

Only a few months back, my wife and I started praying simple prayers for our group, which at the time consisted of only a few (albeit very committed) people. We were content with buckling down and getting on with stewarding that small group, if that’s what He needed us to do.

He didn’t.

Since those short, but reasonably faith-filled prayers – He has moved. So when 18 people squeezed into our living room last night, it was clear that the fruit needed to be carried in two separate baskets (so to speak).

To see such a close community in action, after such a short length of time, is incredibly exciting – and there is nowhere else I’d have rather been last night.

So after we had discussed the changes and the direction the two groups would pursue, there was nothing else to do but celebrate all that God has been doing in the lives of our group.

To echo one prayer last night – to His Kingdom, we aren’t separating, dividing, going different ways – we’re simply (or powerfully, depending on how you want to look at it) expanding. It’s all one and the same to Him. One focus; one direction; one Gospel advancing – we’ll just be much better positioned to claim more ground as multiple units now.

These are exciting times.

Friday, 11 November 2011

If you’ve spent any great length of time with me, you’ll have heard me talk about my Grandfather. 92 years old and still going strong. One of my fave people to spend time with. So when the clock strikes 11am today – on the 11th day of the 11th month in the 11th year, not only do I remember how fortunate I am to live in a free country, but I recall the lifetime of courage and leadership that now sits in an armchair in an old people’s home.

The D-Day landings are probably as close to Hell as anyone will get whilst on Earth. I have such faith that it was the closest to Hell my Grandfather will ever get.

Isaiah 2 v4 reads : ‘They shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not take up sword against nation, neither shall they train for war any more.

There is something significant about the symmetry of today’s time and date – don’t miss the opportunity to join me in praying for a day when war is no more and to thank God for the peace which we’ve all enjoyed in our lifetimes.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

What is hope to you?

To me, hope is…

Someone caring for me so much that He should sweat drops of blood.
The real explanation for why popularity, wealth, success and pleasures are fleeting.
Something that wakes me every morning and gives me rest every night.
Blood-stained planks of wood.
What explains ancient yet oft-ignored scriptures to me, even when I think the situations are new or previously unexplored.
A battered Messiah looking His followers in the eyes and assuring them that He will see them again.
Alcoholism or any other addiction overcome.
A teenage girl carrying the Son of Man, despite becoming a social pariah and the ridicule of the region.
What’s more, it’s the carpenter who stands beside his wife, despite the disapproval and threats from all around.

It’s a giant boulder, that has miraculously been rolled away, regardless of the professional guards that stood watch.
And it’s the emptiness of that tomb as well.
Hope is a couple conceiving after 13 years of trying.
It’s what unites two believers, even though they share no other similarities or paths in life.
It’s finances provided throughout unemployment.

Hope goes on and on. And so could I. Have a think about what hope looks like to you; and if you struggle for a definition, ask the One who thought up the concept of it in the first place.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Last night someone painted a mental picture which was so encouraging to me - just what I needed to hear.

It's easy to doubt that the prayers you pray over people are going to do something significant in those lives. But this image suggests they will.

With each prayer prayed, lines of 'gunpowder' form networks between individuals. The more you pray, the thicker or longer the line becomes. That line is not broken…it just might need to run for longer than we had first imagined.

And it takes just one spark to ignite - just one. Think of the barrels of 'gunpowder' that certain individuals must be sitting on after years of us praying for them. We might not have reaped the prayers sowed so far, but lets not doubt that those reserves of powder/power will one day amount to something incredibly significant.

The lines were never blurred or broken - it was only our own doubt that stopped the motion. The prayer-influence that must surround the people we pray for is incredible. The reaches of which are only truly visible from Heaven.

When God ignites with the smallest of sparks - just stand back in awe and watch the Holy Spirit's power explode through the fuel of countless prayers.

It'll dwarf the biggest fireworks display you've ever seen.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

'Jesus ordered Peter, “Put back your sword. Do you think for a minute I’m not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?” John18v11

Sound familiar? How often do we fly off the handle at a God-plan, drawing our 'swords' in response to how the week has panned out, or reacting with incredulity at a supposedly unanswered prayer? Thinking we know better we immediately respond with a sword - anger, a strop, gossip, swearing, doubt; whatever it is. Only for Jesus to immediately/ later affirm and reassure that He is still there. Still perfectly mapping things out for us. Still winning victory after victory on our behalf, without needing to draw yet another sword. 

He ALWAYS does what He said He'd do - He ALWAYS does.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Jesus could have said: ‘When two or three are gathered in my name, two or three of the group are going to have an issue with lust/porn or any other sexually charged sin’. It might have been reassuring for the impressive numbers of young guys that I have spoken/ prayed with in my time as a Christian.

But something this morning on the tube made me sit up and take notice. I think sometimes in churches and Christian Unions, there can be a big focus on young guys admitting and being accountable for their physical struggles. The spotlight usually falls on them, when lust and porn is mentioned. This morning I sat opposite three very mature businessmen on my way into work. Suited, booted and married. Respectable, upstanding looking men…and all three of them could not take their eyes off the young lady sitting along from me – opposite them. It was almost embarrassing to watch them getting tied up in all sorts of mental knots. I wish I had had some ice at hand to help them all cool off; they were so hot under the collar! Quite possibly with daughters the same age as she was as well.

It just made me realise how easy it is for churches to think that they should start tackling struggles of this nature within the youth work, when more often than not, I bet the older guys could use all the help they could get too (!?).

People in their teens and 20’s that I know, love to talk about it. They’re ruthlessly frank about how they struggle/find pleasure in this area – who’s fit, what they watch and how often they look at it etc etc. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a mature person share about it.

Just saying – yes young people are the focus for much of the attention on sexual sin. But the older bunch could maybe take a leaf out of their books and be bolder with how they share/deal with it maybe?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

It is finished.

Three incredibly loaded words that pretty much changed the face of history and eternity. They leave no room for confusion, doubt or hidden extras. When Jesus yelled out (and He did muster the strength to yell, despite the agony), He really really meant those three words. 

I've been trying to learn a bit about Grace in the last couple of days. I'm definitely of the persuassion (or at least act as though I am) that I can somehow add to my salvation. Like some extra good deed or drive towards holiness might add to what Jesus did when He was held out on that cross for hours on end.

Like heck I can. And I'd be wise to hurry up and realise that!

You might be of the other persuassion - assuming that you can freeload all you want on Grace. A half-hearted lifestyle 'in the name of Jesus' that basically gives the finger to the gracious love of God. 

I'm not sure which is worse to be honest. But what I do know is this: 'It is finished' means - it IS finished. That's phrased simply enough for me/you to weigh carefully over these next few days. If you think you need to go the extra mile to add to it, you're in the wrong. If you think you can go luke-warm on it again and again because Grace forgives - then that needs some addressing too. 

Work hard/Pray hard AND enjoy your freedom. Pray that He helps you reallign that balance this week.