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Be Bold, Be Strong for the Lord our God Is With Us

Faith, Youthwork and Family…

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June 2013

Should Christians Complain? If so How?

I regularly receive emails from Avaaz, who apparently have over 16 million members, they regularly petition against injustices and big corporations trying to affect our world, they played a big part in reigning in Rupert Murdoch’s empire, or so they claim! A recent petition found here spoke about a real life corporate “death-star“, apparently over 600 corporations, or people with vested interest, have signed an agreement to “take over the world!” with the ability to sue governments, if they don’t get the decision that they want! I did sign this one and then was discussing it later with some of my family, and one of them said “Why petition? If it is going to happen it will happen!” We also got onto the discussion about the petition to “keep marriage special“, homosexual couples are already able to have civil ceremonies, but being recognised as a marriage is a totally different thing!

As a heterosexual (despite what some may have said or thought about me as I grew up!), I do not fully understand the struggles, that the LGBT community have in their daily lives.  I am not going to comment on their lifestyles or choices but I do wonder what effect changing the definition of the legal construct of “Marriage” will do to society? Will it really allow polygamy or incest As some Bishops are suggesting?

“If the only basis for marriage is the desire of the parties to get married then there is, according to the logic of this proposal, no reason not to open up marriage to more than just same-sex couples. Polygamy, polyandry and incest would all be permissible.”

Is a national petition to ensure “Marriage” stays “one man, one woman” an effective use of Christians’ time? Is the constant bickering between Gay rights and the “Church” conducive to Christians sharing the good news that Jesus died for us all!  Does the commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” condemn our approach to this issue, or is it a matter of standing up for what we believe?  Are there morals which are being eroded daily? What would Jesus do? He didn’t make a “song and dance” about the woman at the well, he spoke to her gently “You know what’s wrong, I know what’s wrong, follow me!” Or the woman accused of adultery, a crowd built up wanting to stone her for her sin and Jesus drew a line in the sand-

“Alright then whoever has never done anything wrong, stand here and throw a stone!”

No one remained! Are you surprised? Imagine it again, a couple are standing there in their wedding attire wanting to be married, they love each other, they want to spend the rest of their lives together, but they are homosexual, so 1000 people calling themselves “Christians” feel that they have the right to be standing there yelling “sinner“, “your behaviour is abhorrent“, “We can exorcise you of the demonic activity inside you!” and then Jesus says

Ok, whoever has never lied, whoever has not looked at another person and thought “I wouldn’t kick them out of bed!”, whoever has not stolen even a bit of stationery from the office or called someone a derogatory name in anger, stand here and continue your statements!

Who could stand? Who would actually have the guts to stand there next to the holy son of God and say those things? They aren’t loving, they are not words that are encouraging!

We all have opinions, I know that I can be very opinionated, we all have things that wind us up, get on our nerves, people we cannot stand to be around!  Is it conducive to be like Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory) and have a list of 65 mortal enemies? When I think about whether I have anyone that resembles an “enemy“, I know that I need to stop and ask for help from Christ, to react in a way that gives glory to God and not to make anyone say “typical christian!” or “And he calls himself a christian?!

If you are a parent, it does get tiresome when your children are back and forth saying “daddy/mummy (childs name) Hit me!/said…..!/won’t let me have…!” and it is always when you are trying to sort something out too!

I wonder how God sees it, he doesn’t need to stop, as he is omnipresent, but how do we talk to him? Is it like a child with their Christmas wish list, that they have compiled from TV adverts?  Is it like a whine or a moan? Or even a mooing sound that my son seems to make? (I keep threatening to build a cowshed for him one day!)

There is a situation that I am working through, and I don’t want to be considered “whingey” or like a child saying “its not fair!” but I know I need to raise it and deal with it! The bible says

“Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you will be blameless and pure, children of the lord, without fault in a crooked generation”

So does that mean we shouldn’t complain? Does that mean we shouldn’t protest when injustice happens? I love that the If campaign is gaining momentum, and promoting awareness via twitter and social media is great! But unless we actually use our voices and stand up against the injustice, against what is not right, then we are surely like a feather in the wind, occasionally seen but of little impact on the world!  We need to be as

“wise as serpents and innocent as doves!”

How we deal with problems should be a sign to others of the peace, gentleness and respect that the Holy Trinity has with us!  I am not the greatest person at dealing with conflict, and I regularly think of the right answer or response hours after I needed it!  Sometimes taking a moment to consider all angles, and calm down is a good idea, knee jerk reactions are rarely a productive act! Before you get revenge, walk  a mile in the other person’s shoes, then you will be a mile away and have their shoes!

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Zombies vs Spirit-Filled Christians

I was putting my daughter to bed a few nights ago and after reading her a story, I said “ok let’s pray” and then she closed her eyes and said the following

“Lord, please make all the dead people alive again, but not Zombies, I wish you would catch all the Zombies and get rid of them because I don’t like zombies!”

My initial reaction was that of confusion, and curiosity, it was a cute but bizarre prayer!  I kinda wanted to say “O bless her!”, but I also wondered where she got that idea from?!  We have never let her watch a horror movie, she is way too young (plus I am not that keen on them either!) She has seen “Paranorman” and watched some other people play a game called “Plants Vs Zombies” but for her to piece together the ability of God to bring people back to life and the not very nice concept of zombies, was surprising for me especially at that time of night!

Then on Sunday, one of the verses mentioned in a talk that I heard was Ephesians 5:14 which says

“Wake up, o sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

The whole chapter of Ephesians 5 challenges the reader to act how God wants you to!  When we do things which are without question against God’s will, and when we even do things that society has made almost the norm, like rude jokes, talking openly about things that would cause our grandparents’ jaws to drop, or even the act of getting so drunk we cannot remember what happened the previous night!

So I started to think “can Christians be like “Zombies“?” “Is it possible that we are so spiritually “asleep” that we are pretty much only functioning on a really basic level? The “walking dead” so to speak?”

  • Talking (or murmuring/grunting depending on whether we are a teenager or not!)
  • Just existing day to day
  • Doing basic tasks without much thought
  • Appearing to be spiritually alive but have barely any energy for what we are called to do!

What would cause us to be virtually “walking dead” in a spiritual sense?

  • Sin
  • Struggling with temptation
  • Struggling with issues at work/school or in our social life
  • Not listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit
  • Getting distracted by “the real world

I believe that, when we allow things to distract or tempt us away from doing what God is telling us, we “leak” the holy spirit, he is still within us, and still can work through us but when we ignore the “prompting of the spirit” we miss out on so much! We not only miss out on seeing amazing things happen, but we miss out on having such a close daily walk with God!

Some of us have forgotten the power of God, he is able to make dry bones become flesh-covered and then into a vast army! Some of us, (perhaps without even realising it!) are stuck at the foot of the cross, constantly wanting the blood of Jesus to wash us and set us free, the only problem is that Jesus isn’t there anymore! He isn’t even just “dry bones” hidden in a cave! He is alive, and what’s even greater is that when we start our “walk” with God, the Holy Spirit has filled us, whenever someone first becomes a Christian they are passionate, “on fire” contagiously so!  They are so amazed at what God has done for them they are almost a “handful” and uncontrollable!

I will never forget being at primary school, I was so fired up and confident in God’s love etc, that I managed to convert a friend of mine, strangely before I even made the “confession of faith” myself!!  Paul, tells Timothy

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

When I have been involved in youthwork, I have always been conscious of the fact that although, I (or my fellow youth leaders for that matter!) may have more life experience or knowledge of the bible, the young people I am teaching/speaking to, have the ability to be an example, to remind us “oldies” how to be in our walk with God!  Even Paul realised that Timothy as a young person, may not have had the respect and authority that the Rabbis would have held, he could actually be the example that was needed!

Children, generally, have an innate lack of fear, judgement and most of this is down to experience!  If a toddler has never been near a high cliff or even near the edge of a high step and had any experience of falling from a small height, they will have no idea of what could happen!  As adults we have experienced pain, persecution, rejection so we become fearful of situations and forget that the holy spirit gives us all that we need at the moment we need it!  We have the fruits of the spirit:-

We also have the various gifts of the spirit:-

  • Word of wisdom
  • Word of knowledge
  • Faith
  • Gifts of healings
  • Miracles
  • Prophecy
  • Distinguishing between spirits
  • Tongues
  • Interpretation of tongues

We don’t get them all at the same time, we get given them when we need to use them!  Not being able to speak in tongues doesn’t mean you are not a christian and does not mean that you are less of christian than those who can!

I am sure every church leader and church member wants to see a revival in their town (at least I hope so!), but I think before any kind of revival can happen we need to get “fired up” again, like the disciples at pentecost! We need to listen and respond to the spirit, so we are less like zombies, and more like living, excited, ecstatic people who know where their hope is found and know that the most amazing thing has happened for them!

My prayer for me, for my town, for the church is this song.

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