Remember 'Remember the Titans'?
Culture change is tough - but it is worth it!!! I was reminded of this as I watched the movie Remember the Titans. A coach dropped into a chaotic situation must bring culture change for the team to survive... but he doesn't just want it to survive he wants it to succeed, and to dominate. In a way we want our ministries to do likewise so what ideas for culture change can we take from Coach Boon?
Thinking about sacrifice
If Jesus is King, what does that mean for what we want to do with out lives? [Image by Chris Bellerophon Dotson on flickr]
Back to the Mission
Reminded again and again about what we are created for. We are created for worship! But because there are some people who do not worship, we have been given a mission... to go and show people they were created to worship! - photo on Flickr by llamatofu
Appeasement verses Satisfaction
Do we look to appease our emotions, troubles, discomforts with earthy things that may provide some release temporarily, or do we look to God who is the source of complete satisfaction? [Image by donald_palansky_photography on flickr]
Prayer = Dependence
Even in the confidence I have in my own abilities - I am learning that I still need to be dependent on God if the outcome is going to be worthwhile for the Kingdom. Prayer is the key consideration in this! ~photo credit: wiedmaier on flickr
Friday, 29 August 2014
Wednesday, 27 August 2014
|on flickr by KatLevPhoto|
Whether it's not being accepted for a job offer, having a relationship end, not getting into the university you wanted or being betrayed by a friend I think rejection is the most intense emotion (at least in a negative sense) that we experience. I know for me when I feel a real sense of rejection I feel physical pain, it shoots down my left arm and my left hand aches. I remember feeling this as a child, I kind of knew (even as a kid) the pain in my hand was a signal I was really sad or affected by what was going on and not just being an annoying child - even today I feel that pain in my hand and know I need to exit whatever I am doing and compose myself, or deal with whatever is happening. No other emotion elicits a physical pain like this for me.
But why? Why do we feel rejection so intently? Why does it cause us such emotional distress?
Because there is one rejection that will kill us - one so important that we never ever EVER want to experience it;
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? ' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. '
"Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me. ' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."Being rejected by Jesus sends you to eternal punishment, to the final death, to the lake of fire, to pain, suffering and complete separation from God.
I truly believe that rejection hurts us so bad because that horrible feeling is a foundation to drive us away from being rejected by Jesus.
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. "Jesus doesn't want to reject anyone - but He is holy, just as God is holy, for they are one, and that means that anyone who isn't made holy cannot be where God is, cannot have a relationship with God, in a sense must be rejected by God on the basis of their unholiness. And because of sin, we are all unholy - we will never met that expectation of perfection, of Godliness, that God expects and created the world with. In moments of honesty you must acknowledge this to be true, that if God expects you to be completely set apart to His ways, then you have failed terribly.
~2 Peter 3:9
In that sense we all face that ultimate rejection in the future, because we have not completely done 'the will of our Father who is in heaven' (Matt 7:21). Praise God though that He does not want to reject us, so much so that He came to earth and lived the completely holy life that He expects of us, but then He died anyway. Jesus was rejected, so much so He was beaten, mocked and then brutally killed. Jesus experienced rejection when He in no way deserved it. More than that, while on the cross Jesus had all of our sin thrown on Him and with that stain which we caused sitting on Him He was rejected by God; "My God my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matt 27:46).
Because Jesus experienced that rejection in our place, that means we don't have to be rejected anymore. Romans 10:9 says "If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved." Saved from what? From that ultimate rejection. It is our repentance (which Peter says in the verse above is what Jesus wants us all to reach for) of those sins that hung on Jesus on the cross that brings us to the point of having a faith that He is our Lord, that He can save us, that He did take that rejection for us.
That's why I believe the rejection we feel throughout our life crushes us, but not eternally, instead it serves to give us just a small taste of what rejection from God feels like... and because that small taste is so horrible we realise it is the rejection from God we really need to worry about.
Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Amen to that - even in the hard times, life is still better. Sometimes that is hard to grasp onto - but clinging to it can be the only thing that gets you through!
Monday, 25 August 2014
I do believe - I believe everything in this song, and love the way it makes me reflect on all this amazing aspects of my faith.
"And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, "What are you arguing about with them?" And someone from the crowd answered him, "Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able."
And he answered them, "O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me." And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, "How long has this been happening to him?" And he said, "From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
And Jesus said to him, "'If you can'! All things are possible for one who believes."
Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"
And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, "You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again." And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out..."
What is the big teaching point behind this story? What truth do we learn about Jesus? I think we learn a lot from the father of the boy.
Jesus has just been up on the mountain with Peter, James and John. While up their Jesus is transformed as His deity (His Godliness) bursts forth and His glory is revealed - Luke says "His faced changed..." and "His clothes were flashing as lightning" - it's like as they are praying the Godly nature of Jesus must burst forth and his glory cannot be hidden. What a privilege for Peter, James and John to see that. For us reading the Gospels it is one of those high points where we really get to see that Jesus is God, not merely a man, and we can read about the glory of God, the goodness of hope and heaven and get a glimpse at the eternal realm.
But then as they return to the rest of the disciples they are confronted with the reality of the brokenness of the worldly realm we all live in. There are arguments, all because the disciples couldn't cast out a demon from a boy. Just the sickness and possession of the boy is a blatant contrast to the glory of God seen in Jesus' transfiguration - but then add to that the fact that when the boy is brought and Jesus isn't around the disciples for some reason cannot heal him, and then the local religious leaders take that opportunity to use it to discredit and argue about their effectiveness. Human hopelessness, rebellion, disbelief and lack of faith/relationship with God all rolled into one, at the foot of the mountain where Jesus had so recently shone with his Godly glory (so much so that a bit must have remained because people were amazed just at the sight of him in verse 15).
Jesus also goes from discussing the fulfillment of his earthly mission with Moses and Elijah to lamenting about the people around him; "How long do I have to put up with you lot..." even Jesus is struck with the stark reality of the world He has come to dwell in.
Raphael's painting The Transfiguration actually captures the contrast well.
And the poor father is living daily in the reality of that broken and painful world isn't he? Every day he saw the brokenness in his son, the fits, the possession, the pain he would have felt as a father knowing there was nothing he could do to help his son. He hears that there is a teacher travelling around who can heal, who has cast out demons and he must have had this amazing glimmer of hope enter his heart as he thinks of how this Jesus could help him son.
But he arrives to find his disciples there, but Jesus not. He places his faith in the disciples and asks them to heal his son, but they cannot. What went wrong, did this man put his faith in the disciples and not in Jesus to heal, but then that would mean the disciples didn't correctly communicate that it was faith in Jesus that allowed them to heal (remember this is after Jesus sends out the 12, so of the 9 that didn't go up the mountain some of them would have cast demons out before). So were the disciples relying on the fact they'd done it before instead of stopping and committing it to the faith in Jesus once again.
Either way something is amiss with the faith connection and the believing healing power that had been expressed before by the disciples. And it is only when the father meets Jesus that we see those errors in faith, explanation of belief or self dependence more clearly. The father says to Jesus; "If you can..." Jesus replies "If?... all things are possible for those who believe..." and the father immediately puts his faith in Jesus alone.
"I do believe! Help me with my unbelief!"
That's it, that's the key! Even the disciples needed in that moment to look to Jesus and say; "Yes we believe, help us with our unbelief" - it's the answer to all the problems in this story - even the scribes in their arguing and hardheartedness desperately needed to say "We believe" because they were the opponents to Jesus.
Whatever spot you find yourself in your life, this cry is needed. At one point in our lives we must all cry that out to be saved, but even after we are saved it is something to continually focus on and cry out because we continuously need help with our unbelief. Today we all desperately need Jesus, whether we are on the mountaintop reveling in the beauty of his glory, or tumbling among the brokenness and hurt of this world; whether you have never grasped the grace that Jesus offers, or you understand the impact that grace has on your life; whether you are new to this whole 'Christian' thing, or if you have had a faith your entire life... we all desperately need Jesus, He is the only one who changes our lives, who gives us peace and grace, who can heal hurt, correct paths and restore life.
Turn to Him today - whatever your situation - and tell Him you do believe, and you need help with your unbelief.
Wednesday, 20 August 2014
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
"...do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.”
God gives His sheep to Jesus and Jesus gives His sheep the gift of eternal life. And the gift of eternal life is the end of pride.
Monday, 4 August 2014
As the first session of Oxygen Conference kicked off, and we were singing a few choruses I suddenly realised I felt very different to recent times at church.
Not that church has been bad (not at all) or that the music was bigger and better... but simply the fact I wasn't responsible for the running of what was going on, or responsible for others finding God.
The songs were simple, and not the most recent, but I really felt I connected with God in a real and personal way, because my main focus could be worshipping God alone. It seems a little strange to say that when I lead worship or am just attending my church as the pastor that I am not focusing on worshipping God alone. Because I do worship, but I don't think I even realised until today that even though I do worship, I am also geared by my ministry and calling to be thinking of others' experience as well.
But I see it now, and I don't resent my church for the role God has called me to, I certainly see its worth. But I saw today that there is also an importance to find a place to focus on God where you have no leadership responsibility.
Church members, I think its important you realise your pastors need this. I don't know how to do this as an ongoing thing, its a new thought today (and just the first of many to come from Oxygen day one), but I wonder if its a conversation that could br helpful for many people in ministry (both pastors and those with roles of leadership in the church).
Friday, 1 August 2014
I am also looking forward to spending a week with two of my mentors and some other pastors I have worked with over the years. It will be a good time of reconnecting and sharing outside even the conference as we're all staying together.
At the moment I am anticipating a great time of learning and input, but not completely sure of what to expect. I just know God is preparing to talk to me.