You and I don’t live in a series of big, dramatic moments. We don’t careen from big decision to big decision. We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn’t set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments of everyday life. It’s the themes of struggles that emerge from those little moments that reveal what’s really going on in our hearts. Paul David Tripp

I love when a song just randomly comes on the radio or spotify and it begins to stir your heart.  It’s like listening to it for the very first time.

This song has done that for me today.

invitations-templates-free

How many of you went to church or youth group the first time because someone invited you?

On Thursday night our guest speaker at church, Georgian Banov shared about how he became a Christian – he kept on being invited round to peoples houses for meals and they would talk to him about Jesus and after about 2 months he said yes to going along to church with them.

My own story is that I was invited to church by a friend in class who had never talked to me about God or youth group or anything before, she just turned to me and said do you wanna come to youth group.   I said yes.  Because God had been at work in my life way before then to draw me to him.

But sometimes we forget this.  We forget the power of invitation.  We forget about how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  We forget that God uses us to share the gospel and to invite people to church.

We get busy with life and family and work and doing, and we forget that Jesus Himself said that He came to seek and save the lost.  His priority mission was one of rescue.

It’s great to come to church and get blessed and encouraged and to connect and to be inspired…. But one of the most important functions and designs of the church is to reach out to those who are lost, hurting, broken.   This is OUR mission.

As the children of God we are His representatives here on earth.  We are called to seek and save the lost – just as Jesus did.

Now sometimes we can put this into the too hard basket, or we think it’s something that only the evangelists can do, or the pastors, or we don’t quite know what to say or how to do it.

The great thing is that God gives us all the tools to step out – because He has given us the Holy Spirit which empowers us to be His witness.  All we need to do is say YES to be used by God and to then step out and do it!

This week, think about who you can invite to church.  Think about who you can reach out to…. then just do it!

squad disc

I often wonder if I was Jesus how would I choose my squad, my tribe of disciples.

I think I like the X Factor/Britian’s Got Talent/American Idol way.  The contestants would have to audition.  Hi whats your name?  Im Peter.  Whats your day job?  Im a fisherman.  What are you doing for us tonight?

Of course I’d have to have a judges panel.  Maybe with some of the angels or Moses or Jonah. Jonah would be the grumpy Simon Cowell dude.

I found some of the horrible things that Simon says when he X factor judge….

Simon: ‘You look a little odd, your dancing is terrible, the singing was horrendous, and you look like one of those creatures that live in the jungle with the massive eyes. What do they called? Bush baby.’

Simon: ‘Your facial expressions were ugly,’ he said. After the judges protested, he added: ‘You are a beautiful girl, but you’re ugly when you perform. Play it back and you’ll see what I mean.”

Simon compares him to an athlete an the Olympics: ‘Well, the two people who came on before you ran the 100 meters in 10 seconds. You ran it in five minutes. That’s the difference.”

Simon: ‘You sounded like Dolly Parton on helium.’ ‘Seriously.’ That song ‘belongs in some ghastly country fair.’

Simon: ”It was boring, your voice sounded a bit whiny, you looked terrified. And it looks as if you’ve been shut up in your bedroom for about a month, you know, you look verging on haunted, pale, you know? You need some fresh air and you need to make yourself young.
Or perhaps it would be like the Bachelor…. A series of group dates, cocktail parties, one on ones and the rose ceremony.   Judas, will you accept this rose?

Or Survivor, who loves survivor here!  Legendary!  Contestants have to compete in a series of physical challenges and outlast, outwit and outplay their fellow tribe mates in order to be chosen as a disciple.

 

Jesus didn’t use any of those methods.  He just rocked up to them and said follow me.  Now being Jesus he knew all about them but still don’t you often wonder if perhaps his disciple-radar was malfunctioning….  These are the guys that are going to be with Jesus 3 years, witness the greatest miracles, hear God’s heart, learn His teaching, be part of His inner circle and Jesus chooses THESE GUYS!

There is James and John who were known as the sons of thunder, not because they ate too many beans, but because they often threw wild temper tantrums and threatened to call down fire on a village, a whole village because the people didn’t want to follow Jesus.

Simon was a Zealot which pretty much meant he was planning to overthrow the government and commit acts of domestic terrorism.

Matthew who was a tax collector… I mean did Jesus not know that was basically just a job where they got to rip people off.

There is Peter, who never thinks before he speaks.  Who after declaring I’ll do anything for you denies even knowing him 3 times.

And Judas, bless his heart.  He betrayed Jesus.

 

These are the guys that Jesus chose and called and invested 3 years of His life into.  These were the guys that Jesus called to spread the gospel and build the church.

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map reading

One of the key truths that God has graciously given to me is that I know that God made me on purpose and with a purpose.  I remember getting saved and having a very real and very clear call at that moment to ministry.  All I wanted to do is preach the gospel to anyone and everyone.

But there was that next big question, the question we often ask about life.

How do we get there?

Earlier this year I went for a bit of a road trip to visit my friend Fee who lives in Gulf Harbour.  I had never been to Gulf Harbour before.  In fact, I had probably only driven over the harbour bridge about 5 times in the whole 15 years I’ve lived in Auckland!
Anyway, I had her address written down.  I knew from the map on the net what streets to take in her little township area.
But as I drove over the bridge and started looking at the motorway exit signs I noticed one thing that made me half freak out.  They didn’t have suburb titles, like how the rest of Auckland does.  Like Manukau.  East Tamaki.  Greenlane.  It had road names.  I was heading into unfamiliar territory and the road signs made no sense!
Then I saw another sign that made me freak out even more.  Probably a 3/4 freak out on the scale of freaking out.  Toll bridge ahead.  We had been driving for over an hour and there were less and less houses and more and more grass and more and more cows.  I was like oh my word!  Perhaps we totally missed where we were going?  Perhaps I was totally lost!

 

So i pulled over and rung my friend.  Hey Fee, Claire here.  Help I’m LOST and um, yeah that toll bridge thing.

Ended up that I wasn’t lost, I just wasn’t there yet.  And we didn’t have to go the toll bridge, we had to take some off ramp with a weird name that didn’t relate at all to the area she lived in.
Now I bet you’re wondering what on earth does that have to do with my life and my dreams?  Its a nice story, but hello….
You see, just like how I was on a journey we are all on a journey.
I had a destination, but I was driving unfamiliar roads and didn’t really know how to get there.
I was pointing in the right direction, but some of the signs were confusing and made me unsure if I was on the right track.
And in the end I phoned my friend for help.
And yes, we made it there in the end!
We are all on a journey.  Life is a journey.  Every day counts.    But the good news is that God knows the destination, and He knows how to get there.
Jeremiah 29:11-13 says: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
You can be confident at every age and at every stage that God loves you and that He made you on purpose with a purpose.  God isn’t random.  He didn’t make you and then throw you into humanity to see what would happen.  He made you on purpose, with a purpose.
But sometimes it feels like we’re driving unfamiliar roads.  What will I study at high school?  What about university?  Or apprenticeship?  Who will I marry?  Should i do an OE?  Buy a house?  The red pill or the blue pill?     Big questions.
Philippians 1:6 says that God will finish what He starts.  He started something in your life.  And He will see it through to the destination.  God is the dream giver and the dream fulfiller.  He gives us dreams….  those desires and thoughts you have are seeds of God’s plan.  And He doesn’t just leave us to do it ourselves, He on purpose is at work to make the dreams come true.
Sometimes there are confusing signs though.  Some of the confusing signs could be what other people say.  You’re not good enough.  Why would you do that?  Sometimes its what we say to ourselves.  Man we can be mean to ourselves eh?  Sometimes we’re saying we’re not good enough.  Sometimes there is life stuff that happens that shakes us a little bit.  Sometimes its also a timing thing, that God knows the perfect time for things to happen and so He keeps on working on us from the inside out so that we’re ready for the challenge and the task.
Though we may not know exactly what the map is like, we can be confident that God will show us what to do at the right time.
So how do we do that in real life?
1. Reading the Bible.  Psalm 110:105 says Your Word is a lamp unto my feet.  Its a light to show us where to put our feet.   The wisdom and cool stuff in here will show you what steps to take.
2.    Hang out with God.  Remember Jeremiah 29:12-13 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. God hears us when we pray.  Keep drawing close to Him and hanging out with God.  He is so wise, so amazing and knows all and sees all.  He sees your journey from the beginning to end.  Blows your mind eh!  By hanging out with God He gives us the confidence to step out of our comfort zone when we need to, and the peace and strength to keep going.  Sometimes He shows us a better way to do things.  Sometimes He shows us that we’ve been heading in the wrong direction totally and He helps us U Turn and get back on the right road.
3.  Talk to someone.  I phoned my friend.  Talk to a big person in your life, someone who perhaps is further down the road of life than you.  Ask them what they know to be true about God.  Ask them how they got through the rough parts.  Ask them how they figured out what to do next.
I am further down the journey that you.  I have had some epic plot twists.  I have had some interesting detours.  I have had some seasons where it has felt like I was going the long long long way round and that I was asking God every 3 minutes “are we there yet?”  “are we there yet?”  “are we there yet?”
We see the map just as we are.  Just our little square of location.  But God can zoom out and see the whole map.  He sees every part of your journey.  You can trust Him.  He never gets lost.  He never takes a wrong turn.  He doesn’t need to ask for directions.
Tonight put your journey in the hands of God, whom you can trust, and who loves you…
You might however be at that point of wondering if God is real.  If He loves you.  If He knows your journey.  Yip, He does.  He loves you.  He knows your name.  Jesus came for real and lived for real and died for real and rose from death for real to prove that love.  Life without God is like not even getting in the car, to spin the analogy.  Yip, it may feel scary to think about God.  Yip, it may be scary to get real about it.  But its so worth it.

12654419_10153408989397283_1252417666057349839_n

When I was fairly newly saved a guy who prayed for me at a youth group meeting said he felt God wanted me to go home and read Acts 29.

Now you may have just gone through the files of your mind and thought, wait a minute…. there is no Acts 29.  Acts finishes, albeit somewhat suddenly and with the hint of a comma in Acts 28.

As a new Christian I had no reference and I went home, and yes, searched diligently for Acts 29.

Was this guy wrong? Was he not hearing God?

Or was he mocking me???  What was going on!

I talked to him at church on sunday following and I confess, I was kind of miffed.   I leaned more on the “he was mocking me” side of things.

And then he told me that Acts 29 is the chapter that is written by MY LIFE. That I am Acts 29. That it is the exploits that me and God do together for the sake of His Gospel and His Church. It is the adventure that God and I have together with prayer and seeking His face, and God working through me to reach those around me.

Acts 29 is the church today, you and me today, expressing and living for Jesus in power, authority and love.

Acts 29 is the adventure that YOU have in your family, in your circle of friends, at your school, at your job, making God real.  It is the record of exploits you do to make God famous.  It is the conversations you have that are about spiritual things.  It is the moments you make a stand for righteousness, it is the decision you make to not fit in with what the world says but to follow God with everything.

So how do we live an Acts 29 life?

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rain 2

The coming revival must begin with a great revival of prayer. It is in the closet, with the door shut, that the sound of abundance of rain will first be heard. – Andrew Murray

If you’re a reader here you’ll know of my fondness for a well crafted lyric video.  Yes seriously.  Something just ticks the boxes for me with a beautiful lyric video.  It makes my heart happy.   Here is one that does it for me.  And has a brilliant message too!

 

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And again He entered Capernaum and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.  Mark 2:1-4

 

 

 

Revival begins in me.  It begins when I have a real life changing encounter with God, not just the day I get saved, but everyday.  Revival in our own lives is sustained when we have a daily awareness that Jesus is real and that Jesus is amazing and that Jesus is Lord – that Jesus is good and great – of who He is and what His purpose is – and that Jesus lives on the inside of me.

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1 the world needs revival
2 revival must be in the church
3 revival begins in me
4 revival needs room

Revival comes through the revived.

And again He entered Capernaum and it was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them. Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.  Mark 2:1-4

 

Revival Begins with me!

 

It started with:

– the person that invited Jesus to his house

– the friends who took their friend

– the people who told their friends

– the man who stood up and was healed

 

– with you and me saying YES every day to walking with God

 

Today we have opportunities all around us to bring heaven to earth, to bring hope to the hopeless and light to those in darkness.

If we are revived and alive then that life spills out contagiously to others and they begin to see the reality of God through our lives and our living.  If the Gospel is real our lives should look like it!

Revival begins in my heart, in my spirit, in my thoughts and actions.  It begins in my life and then flows to those in my world.

Are you revived?

 

my prayer today:

Lord, ignite a passion for the lost

help me today to be bold and on purpose about talking to people about you

remind me that revival begins with me, today

and that nothing is impossible for You

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