Stepping Out

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 I have been rehearsing a musical with a school for the last few months. I have been having an internal battle about how to walk out Gods love in that situation and trying to work out what that looks like. One of the cast has been telling me that she has stomachs ulcers and her voice has not been going well because of the reflux it causes amongst other things. 

During the rehearsal she was struggling with a song. The further in she went the more you could hear phlegm getting caught on her vocal folds and her higher notes were cutting out. She eventually stopped to say it was hurting. So I took courage and asked her to come over for a private chat as the were a handful of other cast around and I didn’t know how she would respond, or if she would respond differently with peers listening in. So I explained that I had seen and been involved in a number of healings at my church and would she mind if I prayed for her throat. She agreed, so I prayed a simple prayer thanking God for the beautiful person that she is and commanding healing on her throat. I asked how it felt. She said that she wouldn’t know till she tried to sing so I got her to start singing… No change. I felt to get her to continue singing while I prayed again. A few bars later there was a distinct clearing of her throat and strength regained on her top notes. 

The other cast noticed the change and went crazy, asking “what did you do”? So I told them that I didn’t do anything, the Holy Spirit did! One of the girls ceased the opportunity to ask if I could heal her knee which was bandaged. So I got her to sit down and I asked the first girl to come and lay hands on her knee. I then got the first girl to command the knee to be healed in Jesus name. Was it healed? She said that she didn’t know. So I asked if there was anything that she could do to test it out. To which she went and did a split jump, landing relatively heavily. It was healed! 

Then a third girl asked if we could heal her knee too as it hurt when she walked on it without the brace/bandage. So I got the second girl to lay hands on her and ask for healing. Healed!

The group were going nuts, so it took the chance to share with them how much Jesus loves them and how I’m just doing what Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 10:8 “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely given”.

I have planted a seed. I have finally stepped into part of Gods desires for my life. I feel so blessed that I was enabled to be a part of that & will be praying for oportunities to continue pointing the people that I have contact with towards God.

Wearing Gods Love

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I’m not religious, I’m a Christian

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IMG_0651.JPGRecently I overheard a statement from a person, who goes to church but doesn’t appear to talk about her beliefs (though not hiding the fact she goes to church). The statement was in reference to her grandmother who is a fierce believer. Both of these women are people that I love (as a friend) and have relatively regular contact with. I am in no way judging the statement, merely using it as a starting point for my thought process.

The statement was along the lines of “my grandmother is very religious”. It was said from a position of what I can only guess was embarrassment at a proud Christian response to something she saw.

I go to church with the grandmother and regard her as one of the prayer warriors of our church. She is the first to call out during the messages on a Sunday morning. I am so encouraged whenever I come near her.

My issue isn’t with a person being embarrassed by her grandmother. My issue is with the usage of the words “very religious”. That phrase draws a picture about the person to those around.

It says :-
She doesn’t drink
She doesn’t swear
She doesn’t lie
She doesn’t cheat
She doesn’t steal
She doesn’t watch movies rated higher than PG
She doesn’t do anything fun
She will judge you if you do the wrong things around you
She hates gay people
She is narrow minded

I could go on.

Unfortunately that list, the things that people assume about christians because of that word “religious” is not accurate. It gives a connotation of someone who lives under a whole bunch of rules, a whole bunch of thou shalt nots. The bible comes across a lists of rules and nice stories, which is in some ways true unless it is read with the author sitting on your shoulder.

Society has taken a glance at the church, plus a lot of history, and made an assumption. I have to be honest, the word makes me cringe. In fact someone recently asked “are you religious”, as I wanted to share with them but couldn’t say yes, all I could answer was “that’s a loaded question. I Love God but I’m not religious. Religion is about rules and tradition. What I have is relationship”.

There are a number of things in the list above that I don’t do but that is not because of any rules, it’s because I don’t want to do them. The best way to describe it is that I have a wife. I could walk around thinking “I must not cheat on her”… That doesn’t work! I would much prefer to (& I do) walk around not noticing other women because I love my wife so much. It isn’t a question in my mind at all. In fact there have been occasions when my wife has pointed out that a woman was flirting with me and I simply haven’t noticed.

The main thing that people tend to ignore is that Jesus died to free us from rules and bring us into the type of relationship where heaps of that stuff just isn’t a question. Also a lot of the list is ridiculous and closed minded (I’ll let you choose which ones they are).

I came across this article today that really pinpoints a religious spirit that rests on many christians and let’s be honest, it’s just not helpful to anyone.

Wear God’s Love

God Bless ISIS

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IMG_0550.PNGI know that title is contrary to initial opinion but stick with me.

This blog has been very quiet for about 3 months. It isn’t because I have nothing to say. It’s because I have taken this long to get my head around the situation in Iraq.

I found that anything that I went to write about felt insignificant with what is going on in the world. I needed to talk about it. I needed to process.

First thing I did was design a shirt (pictured above) because through history, groups who have claimed ownership of a negative marking have been able to use it to unify that group and stand proudly. I am proud to be a Christian. I want to cover the Iraqi Christians with support. So how better to do that than to take the mark that ISIS (or is it ISIL or possibly just IS) were putting on the property of Christians to mark them and put it on a shirt to mark myself.

But, if there is so much evil in what is happening, why would I possibly want to bless them?

If you read the book of acts you will notice that, in today’s terms Paul (or Saul) would have been named as a terrorist. He was responsible for the murder of countless christians. Yet he was chosen to become one of the leaders of the early church and contributed a huge portion of the New Testament.

God loves ALL mankind. No matter how deplorable their actions, the people of ISIS are still part of God’s creation. I just can’t bring myself to hate them (even though their actions grieve me).

My prayer is that the fire of God will fall on the people of ISIS. That they will be filled with the spirit and that they will have dreams and visions of Jesus… Maybe one of them will run into him on the road to Damascus.

Interesting side note. I’m not sure what it means but it feels like there is some level of deep coincidence. If you look at images of the area of Mosul, there is an area of an ancient ruined city on the Left Coast. That city is the remains of Nineveh. That’s right, the location that Jonah was sent to turn them from their ways. The area that had the entire city turn to Gods ways upon hearing one strange voice walking through their streets for three days letting them know that the city would be destroyed.

It was also one of the first areas of conversion to the Christian message. As Christians we tend to forget that geographically, this area embraced the message of Jesus first.

I have no conclusions to these thoughts. Only ideas that I will leave hanging for you to ponder also.

Wearing Gods Love

I Actually Spoke to a Mormon

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What I hear you say. Why would you do that? Don’t we all just make an excuse and get rid of them as quick as we can?

When I saw them I was reminded of a girl I spoke to some months ago who was obviously searching and was saying that she feels that the Mormons had answers to her questions. If I had the knowledge of what they were saying I may have been able to have a discussion but as the only things I know about the Book of Mormon are from the musical, I decided that it wasn’t useful to follow that area of discussion.

I think, as someone who is bent on evangelism and seeing people come to Christ, that it is my responsibility to understand where people of different religions are coming from. So I played along to the point where they handed me a Book of Mormon. I asked if they had seen miracles. Their response was a vapid “I see the miracle in me that I can come and talk to people…” But when pushed, they had not seen anything tangible.

I am not suggesting that you will only believe in God if you have seen the manifestation of his spirit, I was merely trying to suggest that my God (while you him he’s the same) is far more powerful than yours.

Interestingly, they said that I’m the only person that they have come across who not only believes in God but also prays regularly. Which says to me, either the Christians aren’t taking the time to talk to them, or fewer people respond to God behind closed doors the way they do in more public meetings. I dearly hope that it is the former.

Wearing Gods Love

Going in to bat on Facebook

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I tried an experiment with Facebook, that I will likely continue, this week.

First I shared a post that is a “conversation” between a professor and a student with the professor challenging faith in something that “can’t be seen”. It is a good argument against unbelief. The article ends by saying that the student us Einstein. Further research shows that it wasn’t Einstein.

I have no problem with that as the back & forward is a cogent argument. Even though the original post garnered thousands of responses, my share only had one person picking up the point of not believing quotes on the internet. Fair enough but if having Einsteins name at the bottom makes you believe anything that you wouldn’t normally believe, then you may want to rethink how you make life choices.

So next I posted a YouTube clip of a man being raised from the dead. This had one like and zero comments.

This morning I stumbled on a post Fromm site called “evilbible.com”. The article was stating a case that God is not good because of all of the people that he kills in the bible. So I pointed out that all of the references are Old Testament and usually linked with judgement and that a Jesus died as a payment for our sins.

The original post looked like it was going to get lots of people liking it and having a go at Christianity. There was one follow up comment saying that most Christians haven’t read the bible and font actually know what they believe. I had to agree but was able to still set some details straight in accordance with the gospel message and freedom that we have on this side of the cross.

What I sense is that because some Christians are outspoken, many atheists think that they need to “come out of the closet” and speak up against God. My experience however is that so many Christians (myself included till recently) will pull away whenever challenged on their faith. The reality is that, assuming you have a cogent argument, most people are happy to discuss… Or they will not comment because it is very hard to back up non belief when confronted with proof.

I urge you all to start posting your faith. That doesn’t mean ram it down people’s throats but if you see a post that is misrepresenting God then have the courage to say something.

Wearing Gods Love

Religulous thoughts

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Last night I caught a tv documentary from Bill Maher. It is called Religulous. I believe that, as troubling as it is, this should be required viewing for anyone who intends to share their faith.

The documentary is basically an outspoken atheist telling American Christian Culture that they are idiots and wrong. I need to say that I was in tears on many occasions (not tears of laughter though). The fact that there was someone on TV challenging everything that I believe in was not my problem. The things that upset me were;

1) Most of the “religious leaders” that he interviewed really struggled to find coherent answers to his challenging questions. Bill is able to quote bible verses to support his argument, or make view points sound crazy. How can we believe in creation with the talking snake when science has so much evidence for humans descending from apes. One of the preachers was struggling to quote basic scriptures that anyone who attended Sunday school for a few months would know. It really worries me that there are leaders of churches that don’t have the answers or really seam to know their bibles.

2) There are so many film clips of “Christians” spreading messages of hate. Holding signs that say “God hates gays”, or “AIDS is the cure to homosexuality”. I have such a huge issue, both theologically and relationally, with these ideas. God loves ALL people. I get upset that this is how the world views Christians. If that’s type of hate is all I saw of Christianity, I would run the other way if someone started trying to share the gospel.

3) The best responses and most coherent answers came from the actor who plays Jesus in a Holy Land theme park in Florida. This isn’t a bad thing, though they did make a point of showing the theme parks publicity people come racing towards them when they realized what was happening (basically trying to give the impression that these people aren’t prepared to face the hard questions). I am so in awe of that actor, who had a reasonable response to most of the questions and a profound explanation of the trinity when challenged on a monotheistic gospel that worships three Gods (he explains it as water. It can have three forms, Steam, water & Ice yet it is still the same thing).

I think that this documentary should be watched and really thought about. The questions raised are questions that every Christian who wants to share the gospel should have an answer to. Just make sure you get the full answer out before being diverted by a brash non believer.

Wear Gods Love

Jesus is not a swear word

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This week I was walking through a crowded shopping centre wearing my J*E*S*U*S T-Shirt. While I didn’t talk to anyone, I found it interesting to watch the faces of people walking towards me. Most of them dropped their eyes to my shirt. Most of those that did had of look of confusion.

It became evident that these people have never seen a shirt with Jesus written on it. In fact after a while of watching reactions, those looks told me the full story. The look was one of offense!

Why has the name of our lord become a dirty word? I realized that it is rare for me to see Christian messages on shirts in the wild. Don’t misunderstand me, I see people wearing shirts with a Christian message on it often. The problem is that these shirts are being worn in church or other similar settings. Let me clue you in on a little secret. When you are in regular church services, there are very few people in the room who don’t already know God. Your shirt is having little if any affect. In order for a shirt to help share your message it must be taken outside if that context.

I hope and pray that at least one of those people who saw my shirt will go home and google the word Jesus.

Wear Gods Love