Thursday, 24 May 2012

Monday, 21 May 2012

Drifting along?

Drifting upon a tide. A nice thought to some who perhaps have parameters for the idyllic picture of drifting on a tide.  For those who have been at the mercy of the ocean, rather more terrifying pictures are conquered up by the phrase.

Hebrews 2:1 
"We must pay more careful attention, 
therefore, to what we have heard, 
so that we do not drift away."

The author of Hebrews uses the word drift or more correctly the Greek word pararreo, which the New Strong's huge concordance defines as "to find oneself flowing, gliding, or passing by without giving heed to a thing."  The key Word Study bible concisely puts it "to drift away, flow past, slip away."

I was listening to a downloaded message by Carolyn McCulley, She was speaking at a conference (New Attitude 2004), as part of her message she dropped in this statement;

"When we are drifting, we are not drifting towards God."

Out of her hour long message, this brief statement spoke volumes to me.  Drifting appears so innocuous.  Just cruising along in our faith walk is not the picture of dreamily floating on a calm ocean. Cruisng in our faith looks more like being taken further and further from the safety of the beach in a boat with no ores.  Still sound dreamy?  I'm starting to feel seasick.

"Lapse from truth and goodness is more often the result of inattention than of design. 
Drifting is a mark of death: giving heed, of life." 
(Vincent's Word Study)

I normally write a post then publish my thoughts that day, or if it's an article, it's published the first Sunday of the month. This post I started late last week, then wanted to percolate it in my mind.  And so it was really no surprise that Sunday's sermon was on the money!  The sermon titled Submission to Jesus  by our senior pastor was on Luke 9:18-22.  The message included this statement; "casual Christian" is an oxymoron.   How can we be casual about what Jesus Christ did for us.  We are called to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. Luke 9:23.  As a response of love for His love and grace for us.  Deny, take up and follow are all verbs, an active response to love.  In the next verse in Luke, we are told that "whoever loses his life will save it."  As if grace in abundance and love beyond measure is not enough, we get eternity, starting now, with Christ, the One who loves us most.  Fullness of life.  Do we even realise how blessed we are?  Do we realise how much He loves us? Do we respond as if we understand His love?  I don't - I admit it.  I keep learning, so I can know His love, I don't want to want things in this life, I want to want for His life, fullness of life.

Weighing up drifting through life, going backwards, or enjoying our Love ... shall we choose joy in Christ Jesus our ultimate lover?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

James 1:22

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says."

This point is made because God loves us, and does not want us to stay in the same place, stuck, neutral or 'as is'.  He desires us to be who we were designed to be, to reach our full potential, and I'm not talking 'be all you can be' motivational type of thing.  I'm talking who we were designed to be, our creators design for us.  Why does God want our growth?  Because when sin, selfishness and self-importance entered the world in the garden of Eden, our destiny was changed, because we now have to deal with brokenness, of our world, of others and of ourselves.  He wants change for us, He wants growth, Why? Because He loves us.  God delights in our growth, that fresh understanding that actually changes us, from rebellious teenage like theorists to mature thinkers that act.  Doers of the word, not just thinkers on the word.  

Monday, 7 May 2012

Listening and Obeying

One morning I was reading a parable in Luke’s Gospel.  I looked down and read this in the explanatory notes at the foot of the page. “Jesus often communicated spiritual truth through parables – short stories or descriptions that take a familiar object or situation and give it a startling new twist.  By linking the known with the hidden and forcing listeners to think, parables can point to spiritual truths. A parable compels listeners to discover the truth for themselves and it conceals the truth from those too lazy or dull to understand it.”(Life Application Bible)

Boy did this get me thinking!  Dull?  Lazy? Why would Jesus want to conceal the truth from anyone?  Jesus knew the heart of everyone who was there to listen to him that day.  He knew there were followers, seekers, spectators, agitators, procrastinators, lovers of truth, and lovers of self.  Why did he conceal the truth from some? I then found my way to John 11:45-46, intrigued by the different responses of people who witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead.
“Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.  But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” 

Witness A put their faith in Jesus after seeing him raise Lazarus from the dead.  Witness B went and ‘told on’ Jesus to his opponents, so making trouble after witnessing the very same miracle as witness A. Unbelievable! It would appear that some people can be confronted head on by the truth and yet be too blind to see it.  Does that make you frown? How could people be so blind to such miracles?  

Ravi Zacharias said “A man rejects God neither because of intellectual demands nor because of the scarcity of evidence.  A man rejects God because of a moral resistance that refuses to admit his need for God.”  This seems to me to be the only logical conclusion. We can be confronted head on by the truth and through pride, be too blind to see it. 

I can only hope that in sharing my challenge in this area, that you too will be moved and challenged. God isn’t brutal with me. He gently urges me to grow. I hope these few words will do the same for you. I’d hate to bully you.  If it feels that way, I apologise. Excitement bubbles when God teaches me something and ‘one’ can get somewhat enthusiastic when sharing it!!

God’s been at me lately about hearing and understanding truth, yet letting it sit in the vacuum of my heart without it seeping into my life.  I hear it. I get it, but do I let it get me?  We can listen to a wonderful sermon that should give us reason for change but then just let it lie.  Do you get what I’m saying here?  Am I alone in this “hibernating sermon” phenomenon?  It’s commonly called head knowledge and I have to let you know that as scary as this sounds to my ears, I’m tired of it. I’m tired of just being a listener.  It’s so easy for us to get affected by a sermon while it’s being preached but then just let it slide after the service is over. Sure we do it in a ‘Christian way’ though. We end up still looking good. I mean we were at church, listening to the sermon and we even took notes, but really we are avoiding Jesus’ word to our hearts. We busy ourselves after church, then the week starts and before we know it, it’s Sunday again and we’ve thought no more about what we heard. 

Hopefully all the teachers you listen to, inspired by the Holy Spirit, are scattering the seed of the Word of God in your life. The question we should ask is, are we preparing the soil of our hearts to better receive that seed?   Dallas Willard once said “God ordained that people should be governed in the end by what they want.” Do you want to grow in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ?  God the Father adores Jesus Christ. He lavishes His love on him, so much so that He wants children growing like him, modelling him, immersed in him, because Jesus is so amazing.  Is that what you want?  That’s a good question to be rattling around in our heads.  Do you and I want to live our lives in a state of ‘as is’ or do we want to grow and flourish? If we are governed at the end of the day by what we want, is what we want worthy of our calling as Christians? 

So where to from here?  I’ve read books where they are good at telling me what I am doing wrong, yet I feel they fail to give me direction on how to change.  Maybe it’s a case of giving a biblical principle for us to follow, but forgive me, I need a process. A ‘how to’.  I guess this can also get a little scary as then we get into ‘fix it’ mode and forget it’s all about God’s grace working in us, not just us trying hard to tick the boxes.  So I’ll try to give some ideas for change that will hang loosely; Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  We can so easily talk ourselves out of change, “I nearly do that, so I’m close enough”. “Well I’m okay really, my strengths are in other areas”. “I have bigger issues to sort out.”  If you get challenged by the Lord, trust Him, it’s important. Don’t try and excuse yourself. Then stop and think on it.  Joshua 1:8 talks about meditating day and night.  Stop and think on it.  If you have to get some time away from the busyness of life, then do it.  What is more important than God speaking to you through His Word? Nothing, that’s what. Absolutely ziltch!!  Pray and ask God to make things click in your head and heart and take some time to be quiet in His presence. 

3 simple points. 1. No excuses, 2. Think on it, 3. Pray and listen. 

Now it’s time to put into practise what we have been thinking together about. Have you heard a good sermon lately?  Been challenged for change? Don’t avoid another week of change. Remember God loves you enough to challenge you to move forward and grow not to stay ‘as is’.
Lord may we each be open to you, not dull and lazy toward the truth.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Elyse Fitzpatrick was news to me

Have you heard of Elyse Fitzpatrick?  She was not on my radar until this past Tuesday, when I received a disk full of her teaching.  I've only listen to 2 of her messages so far, and from what I have heard, I'm missing something.

I tried to talk to a friend about it, but I think I may have chosen the wrong friend, or the wrong day for the right friend, either way, the message that was delivered, somewhat poorly was not well received. And what is the message? Well it's simple really. Christianity is all about Jesus' love for us. His love, His work, His life, His gift, His incarnation, His death, His resurrection, His ascension. It's all about Jesus.  Which probably isn't news to you.  I guess for me the bit that resonates is that my view of it, is that my faith is all about me.  I was save by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and now I try to be the best person I can be to honour God.  See the problem with that is that I'm making it all about me.  It's not about me, it's about Jesus.  I'm pretty sure that I am meant to be getting it through my head but more importantly my heart that Jesus loves me.  

It hasn't just been Elyse Fitzpatrick who has been speaking this message into my life.  We have just finished a sermon series called Love Struck, at my home church.  And I've just listened to a sermon series by Beth Moore from called Measureless Love.  So I think something is going on.  I think this saturation is  starting me get me moving in a direction I am unfamiliar with, and I am so excited.  

A good part way through last year (2011), a spiritual enlightenment happen that I can not, to this day, explain.  My faith changed.  I was someone who attended church, enjoyed church, was involved in church in numerous ways.  I loved God, I loved to worship Him, singing praise to His name.  I got so excited when others came to faith in Christ.  Church life was my life.  People knew I was a church goer upon our first meeting, I'd always drop it in there somewhere.  It was a good life, but it was nothing compared to what I have now.  And I'll tell you, none of those things have changed, none of them.  But something else has.  I am ravenous for God's Word.  Out of no strength or wisdom of my own, I spend all my spare time listening to sermons, reading God's Word, doing bible studies.  Now, let me tell you for the record that before 'the change' I would dust my bible off every Sunday morning before church.  The thought of getting up to have a quiet time last year, well, it was just a thought, then 'the change' and I started getting up an hour earlier, but it turned out to be not enough time, so I had to take my alarm back an extra half an hour.

What has changed?  Nothing and everything.   I have found myself enjoying God, His Word and His Spirit. Actually enjoying Him.  This is not me, I have done nothing to 'make' this happen.  I have no clue what happened to me.  I just know, He's so good.  He loves me, this part ... I'm still coming to grips with His love for me. But I think when I do, there is going to be an even greater shift in my head and heart.  I know He's preparing me, I don't believe in coincidence. Jesus' love bombarding me from every angle ... some things up.  

So google Elyse Fitzpatrick, search Hope Community Church Love Struck sermons and take at look at for Beth Moores messages.  Don't take my word for it, join the feast in God's Love.