A change of pace

Posted: December 23, 2011 in My LIfe

Now it is only two days to Christmas. What a marvellous time of year for many of us. Lyn and I are so looking forward to celebrating our love of Jesus and one another with our children, their spouses and our grandchildren. How amazing the Lord has been to us.

In February 2012 it will be 30 years since I believed in Jesus and the work of the cross. The Christmas of 1981 was totally different to the one we will celebrate in two days time – all because of Jesus. It’s amazing how all those carols that play in the background of shopping centres declare truth that is so easily missed or misunderstood.

Through January I will be taking a rest from writing my blog. I will be starting to write my next book in the second half of January and will focus my writing efforts there.

I wish you a wonderful Christmas and look forward to seeing you on these pages again on Feb 3, 2012.

Until next time may you be blessed with God’s favour and life.

Prevention is not the best cure

Posted: December 16, 2011 in Christian Life

I assume that, like me, you have those days when your heart is heavy and aches for something to be different. This week I have found people who love Jesus and whom I love echoing John’s comment to Jesus:

‘Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, And we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.’

It is all too common that we try to prevent others being who they are in Christ because they don’t do what we do or see what we see. Prevention comes in many forms: criticism, judgement, advice, warning and to name a few. These expressions of prevention can always be justified by those exercising these tools but do they stand in the face of Jesus’ response to John?

But Jesus said,

“Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.”

It is important to remember John was motivated because they ‘were not following us’. I assume ‘us’ is the disciples and their understanding of how Jesus had sent them out. Jesus declares that He is irresistible regardless of how people serve Him. That it is not our role to prevent people from serving or following Him in whatever way they choose. Jesus knows that our mixed motives and understanding are the domain of the Spirit to work out not ours to prevent through any means.

It seems to me prevention only leads to tension and division rather than love. The greatest and most powerful characteristic of the Kingdom of God is love. Anything that we reach for that undermines or threatens love being expressed and acted upon needs to be resisted by us. Mark 9: 42 – 48 speaks of disciples being self-governing. That is, free men who are self-aware and take personal responsibility to be like Jesus.

In matters of following Jesus, prevention is not the best cure. Love that trusts the work of the Spirit is how Jesus taught us to respond when he also said:

“…Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.” Mark 9: 50(b)

Until next time may you be blessed with God’s favour and life.

The longer I am a disciple of Jesus the more I realise how much I owe to those who have gone before me.  I stand on the shoulders of Pentecostal preachers and ministers who opened up a way for me when they paid a price that  included rejection, suffering and ridicule.   I am also discovering that what seem to be new insights into living a supernatural lifestyle have previously been revealed to those before me.

Leo Harris, in the 1940’s, was preaching and releasing the supernatural power of God.  He was committed to invading the impossible.  Leo was known for:

–     Proclaiming the authority and reliability of God’s word and believing it was God’s responsibility to make it work;

–     Awakening the church to its responsibility;

–     Restoring to the church the power of the Holy Spirit;

–     Recovery by the church of the forgotten truths of the New Testament;

–     Sticking to the “hard” stuff – the things that cannot happen unless God is in them;

–     Holding forth the need for  a revelation that we are the children of God;

–     Presenting the absolute significance of thinking biblically; and,

–     Renaming our world from God’s perspective.

Here I stand in 2011, some seventy years later, learning and proclaiming the same truths with the same results of healings, miracles, salvations, signs & wonders and deliverance.  I’m not sure how we lost our way but…I offer the proposition that we did.  I wonder what it will take for more of God’s people today to live out of what the work of the cross has enabled in us for the benefit of others.

Until next time may you be blessed with God’s favour and life.

Being Son Conscious

Posted: December 2, 2011 in Christian Life

God is not dealing with our sin but with our identity.

The bible teaches us that God is not counting our sins against us (2 Corinthians: 5:19), that He has forgiven us all out transgressions (Colossians 2:13), that Jesus was the sacrifice offered once and for all time for our sins (Hebrews 10:12) and that we at to be dead to sin and alive to God (Romans 6:11).

John 16:10 teaches us that the Holy Spirit is convicting us of our righteousness.  That is, that we are Sons of God (Romans 8: 10 – 17 ).  He is calling us up into our identity in Christ not calling us out to punish and/or judge our sin.  God is more interested in what we are missing by way of revelation of who we are in Christ than He is in calling out what is wrong with us.  Consequently, He is not dealing with our sin but with our identity.

To illustrate how this looks in reality…Some people say they have an anger problem – sin consciousness.  But what if they have a patience problem – identity on the basis of the fruit of the Spirit?  God is not focussed on how our past shaped our lack of Christ-like behaviour as much as He is focussed on what we have been given through faith in the finished work of the cross and walking in that.  When we focus on who we are becoming – our identity in Jesus, our destiny – we adopt a present/future way of living above a present/past mindset.

The Holy Spirit works with vision and possibilities.  For those who struggle with anger He wants to help them discover patience more than controlling anger.  Behaviour is always the echo of belief.  We are not called to manage sinful behaviour we are to position ourselves to be led by the Spirit to be renewed by the transforming of our minds.  Wrong believing leads to wrong behaviour.  Right believing leads to right behaviour.

When we believe right about who we are in Christ – our identity – everything can change.

Until next time may you be blessed with God’s favour and life.

Busy, Busy…Gone!!

Posted: November 25, 2011 in Christian Life

It’s not so much how busy you are, but why you are busy
 …the bee is praised
 …the mosquito is swatted!

Christmas here we come!!  The rush is on.  The artificial deadline has been set.  So, what will our response be?

We can be busy out of love or out of duty.

We can be busy out of devotion or out of commitment.

We can be busy to bless or busy to achieve.

Busy brings pressure.  Pressure can release raised emotions or be managed through peace and rest.  Raised emotions are linked to duty, commitment and achievement.   Peace and rest are accessed because of love, devotion and the motivation to bless. So much of life is influenced by where we dwell and look.

Jesus came because of and lived a life of love, devotion and a motivation to bless. His heart was stirred by a desire for the well-being of others.  He served through compassion and call.  Because Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth it would be wonderful if we could celebrate His life by learning to be like Him.

This Christmas you are unlikely to be able to avoid being busy, but you can choose “why” you are so.

Until next time may you be blessed with God’s favour and life.

Definition of Marriage

Posted: November 18, 2011 in Social Justice

There is an old saying that: “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist”.  Someone views themselves as a patriot while others see them as a dangerous zealot.  We live in a culture that is placing an increasingly high value on being “politically correct”.  The call to avoid discrimination can blur the lines between what is right and wrong from a biblical perspective.

My heart’s passion is to change the hearts of Australians through encounters with the spiritually dynamic and transformative Christianity we experience.  I long for the ordinary Aussie battler, the spiritually aware Aussie, the multi-cultural Aussie, the sports fanatic Aussie….to come alive to the spiritually vibrant and empowered relationship that Jesus has always offered.  Consequently I am hesitant to allow others to marginalise me as an “irrelevant religious bigot” by commenting on what I believe is a significant social issue, that is, the definition of marriage.

As a biblically based spiritual person, I have only one place to stand when it comes to the definition of marriage.  The bible defines marriage as the union of a man and a woman.  My commitment to this definition does not cause me to devalue the relationship a same-sex couple may find together.  My commitment to the biblical definition does not result in me judging gay or lesbian relationships.  What I cannot agree with is that these relationships can be defined as marriage.  I would never argue against people discovering love and a life-long union with someone of the same sex, but I cannot call it marriage because my definition is based on the union of a man and a woman.

As I believe the maintenance of this definition is important to God then I am prepared to ask the delegates to the 2011 Labor National conference to not adopt a policy to change the way our society defines marriage.  I have signed the petition to this effect on the Australian Christian Lobby website.  Would you consider doing the same by the end of November?  Visit the website and come to your own conclusions.

Until next time may you continue to be blessed with God’s favour and life.

Global Day of Worship

Posted: November 11, 2011 in Christian Life

Today’s date is 11/11/11.  There is a world-wide movement of Christians who have called for this day to be celebrated with a Global Day of Worship.  There will be worship services between 7 and 8pm in every time zone today as well as calls to prayer throughout the day.

I love the church – the Body of Christ.  Jesus loves the church, the Body of Christ so much He calls us His bride and is returning for us.  There is only one church in my city…it meets under many different banners that express many different theological persuasions and practices…however, Jesus only sees one church.  If another local expression of “church” in my city is hurting through division, I should feel that pain and cry with them (not rejoice in their pain because I always knew they were not quite right).

Jesus came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God not the gospel of the church.  The church is an expression of the Kingdom…the Kingdom is not an expression of the church.  My primary role is to advance the Kingdom and inspire others to do so wherever they work, live, study and/or play.  My secondary role is to build the church. I am to make disciples of the King and His Kingdom not of my church.

The call to a Global Day of Worship reminds us that we belong to a Kingdom before we number ourselves in a denomination, movement, network or autonomous church.  It is better for us to have a commitment to Kingdom activity.  It just so happens that one of our annual Kingdom orientated conferences, Deeper, is on today and tonight.  We are going to be radical worshippers of Jesus tonight alongside people from many other churches.

When will you next take the opportunity to be actively involved in a Kingdom-based activity??

Until next time may you be blessed with God’s favour and life.

Obedience & Courage

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Christian Life

One of the recurring themes in scripture is ‘fear not’.  Many people do not fully enter into their promised land because they allow fear to dictate the boundaries of their faith.  There are always giants waiting for us at the border of our destiny because we are called to invade the impossible.  Our lives bring glory to God when what takes place is only possible if He turns up.  The process of conquering our fears/giants is what prepares us to prosper in our promised land.

Obedience is achieved through courage.  It has been said that:

–        Without a vision the people perish but without courage dreams die

–        A coward dies a thousand deaths but a brave man only dies once

–        We are to fearlessly take our place in our identity and wrestle the initiative from the devil

Often obedience is actually demonstrated in the face of fear. It is only in facing our fears that they can be conquered and our destiny captured. Courage is not the absence of fear.  Courage is the choice to overcome our feelings so that we obtain our desired outcome.

One of the main reasons people don’t act is because of an overwhelming sense of inadequacy.  It is so easy to inventory our weaknesses and disqualify ourselves from the historic exploits God has assigned to each of us.  I need you to occupy your promised land because we advance the kingdom together.  As we are aligned together in being the Sons of God we become a formidable threat to the enemy.

We are part of a generation who are deciding to stand against fear knowing we are loved by God and we face a defeated enemy.

Until next time may you be blessed with God’s favour and life.

Becoming who we already are (6)

Posted: October 28, 2011 in Christian Life

There are verses in the bible that are confusing!!  Often it is because the translation does not help the reader explore the meaning of the original language.  For example 1 John 3 : 9

No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him;…

At first reading this is confusing to those who love Jesus and are born again.  We know we still sin.  Paul acknowledges he still sins. (Romans 7 : 14 – 25) So, what are we to do with the reality that we do sin when this scripture declares we aren’t meant to sin?

The word “seed” comes from the Greek word ‘sperma’.   So the DNA of God is in those who are born again.  The word “practices” is in the present continuous tense and is better translated ‘keeps on practicing’.  A baby has DNA that will see teeth grow, but not straight away.  The baby’s teeth then fall out and are replaced by adult teeth.  The capacity to sprout adult teeth is always present but it takes time for them to emerge.

So, John is saying over time we stop practicing sin because we have God’s nature in us.  That is, no one who has God’s DNA will keep on practicing sin over time because they will be shaped and formed by who God is.  We have all of God’s DNA, it just takes time to produce all it is capable of producing – like teeth in our natural bodies.

The Christian life is a paradox because we are becoming who we already are.  We need to stay spiritually healthy so that the genetics we have received will come to pass.  We have been given the right to be Sons of God (John 1:12) so let’s stay healthy and become like Jesus in every respect.

Until next time may you be blessed with God’s favour and life.

Handling Offence

Posted: October 21, 2011 in Christian Life

There are some things in life that come very naturally.  On a positive note there is breathing, eating, drinking and sex!!  On the negative side there is discouragement, disappointment and taking offence.  Jesus warned John the Baptist to not be offended with Him (Luke 7: 23).  Jesus warned us not to be offended with one another in judgement. The writer of Hebrews observed that offence can lead to a root of bitterness that infects our whole life (Heb 12: 15).

If offence is lurking then it would be good to have a way of defending ourselves should it spring its trap.  So, here are some principles to ponder:

  • Offence can be understandable but it can never be acceptable
  • Offence is always valid in the eyes of the offended
  • When we agree with another’s offence we imprison them further
  • One of the tests for receiving more of the kingdom is to handle offence properly

Like many ‘negatives’ we can defeat offence by operating in the opposite spirit.  Instead of choosing offence we can choose honour.  In very simple terms this equates to:

  • Elevating the status of those who offend us from judged to forgiven;
  • Glory in and promote those who offend us by seeing their positives and highlighting those;
  • Give prestige to those who offend us by recalling that they are loved and cherished by God; and,
  • Respect and admire those who offend us by protecting them from any pain.

This is the high calling of being a follower of Jesus.  To live this life required us to rely on the grace of God.  The Christian life is difficult but the Holy Spirit takes what is difficult and makes it easy.

What do you think?  How have you found handling offence?

Until next time may you be blessed with God’s favour and life.