Last night we had our official kick off 2015 for HKC Youth @ The River.

We had some worship, games and then I spoke.

Being the first night I wanted to tell them a little bit about my own story….

 

I thought I’d begin by telling you a bit about my story.  You see, even though I am WAY older than all of you, I once upon a time, a long long time ago, was a 16 year old girl, who wore all black, who didnt know God and was lost in life.   But one day that all changed.

My family  moved around lots because of my Dad’s job.  Every 2 years we moved to a new town.  I was born in Whangarei and have lived all over NZ – from the north to the deep south in a tiny town called Edendale and Gorrrrrrrrrre.  It’s where i get my accent from.  So you’ll hear the extra R’s when i say church, Lord, worship, purple work shirt.

Anyway when I was 16 we moved to Blenheim.  Now the difference between Gore and Blenheim for me was huge.  I went from a co ed school, with about 300 guys and girls, to a girls only school, with over 1000 girls in it!  Yikes!  Culture shock!

One day in my Classics class a girl I sat beside me asked if wanted to go to youth group with her.  I looked at her and said “do they have boys there?”  She was like, “duh, yeah”.  So i was in!  Yip, I went to youth group to meet guys.  Man God is sneaky sometimes!

But notice – it was her invitation that got me along to youth group.  I wonder who you sit beside?  Who has God put in your life that He is wanting to show His reality and love to?

Anyway, I went along and on the first night there was someone there, yes a guy, with a guitar and he said we’re going to have worship now, and he then prayed.  Everyone closed their eyes and bowed their heads and I was woah, what is this?  What is happening?  But then my woah turned into a WOAH because I had this sudden realization that God was real and that I could know Him.  That I MUST know Him.

I went along to their Easter Camp, knowing I was going to become a Christian.  I didn’t know what that meant but I was ready to give my everything to Jesus.  I think I thought that being a Christian meant I would have to wear gray, be really boring and never listen to heavy metal music again.  But that sense that it would be all worth it was so strong that I was ready to wear gray, be boring and listen to nuns singing soprano.  Forever.

We had our Easter Camp in a shearing shed and shearers quarters.  The preacher talked about a whole heap of things I had no idea about and then told us to go and talk to God.  By ourselves.  Like TALK TO GOD.  I had no idea what that meant.  and I didn’t think God would want to listen to me!  I sat under a huge tree and sobbed my heart out.  The only thing I knew about God I learned while going to the catholic church sometimes with my mum.  I thought that I had to be good to make it to heaven.  that it was my goodness that would make okay.  That if I was good enough then when I died st peter would open the pearly gates…  yip, I thought that.

That night I learned that it didn’t matter how good I was, Jesus was perfect.  He lived a perfect life and then died in my place, exchanging my sin and rap sheet, for His perfectness.  Jesus is more than good enough.

I learned that God loved me and that no one is good enough.  That we’ve all made mistakes and sinned and run away from God.  But that God made a plan because He loves each one of us, personally, so that we can come close and be called friends of God.  This plan involved Jesus being nailed to the cross and dying, not because of anything He had done but because of everything I had done.  But He didn’t stay dead, He rose again and that shows that nothing is impossible for Him, that He can make us not guilty, that He can heal us, that He is really really God.

The preacher asked those that wanted to be “born again” to come up the front.  Now that was something I had never heard of.  Born again?  What that means is that before we become Christians on the inside we’re dead.  The spirit part of us is wrecked by sin.  But when we come to know God, when we are born again, when we are saved, God makes that part of us come alive.  He fills us with the Holy Spirit and it’s like we change species!

I was lost, but then I was found.

I was dead but then I was alive.

I was sinful but then I was made perfect and innocent.

Wow!  Wow!  Wow!

I so wanted that!  I wanted to know for sure what would happen when i would die.  And I wanted to know God NOW.  Not just in death but in NOW.

I went up the front and nothing like I had ever imagined or expected happened.  I felt God.  Tangibly.  For real.

And I knew.  I knew that I knew that I knew that God was real and that He loved me.  That Jesus died for me and that I was now clean and innocent.  Pure.  Holy even.

This is the invitation into greatness that Jesus offers.

It’s not about being nice.

Or good enough.

But it’s about knowing an amazing God.

It’s about knowing God NOW.  God isn’t all about what happened 2000 years ago. IT’S ABOUT NOW.

God is INTENT in releasing His Spirit upon the earth.  He is intent on people seeing His goodness and greatness.  He is intent on saving people.  There is more awesome stuff going on NOW than there has ever been in history.

What God is doing now is unprecedented.  In china alone there has been in the last decade 12,000 born again every hour.

Right now you live in the greatest hour of all time.

You are called to be a leader in this generation.

You are not along for the ride in life!

Believe you can make a difference and that your effort can transform nations.

You are not called to follow in your generation.  You are not called to follow in your school or in your city.

You are called to lead.

God didn’t just do amazing things in history with amazing people.  He is doing extraordinary things RIGHT NOW through ordinary people, like you or me.

Remember what Jesus did with the loaves and fishes belonging to the young boy.  The disciples questioned if they could be used. They couldn’t wrap their brain around what Jesus could do.  The same with our lives.  He takes it.  He multiplies it and feeds the crowd.  Jesus multiplying the bread is an incredible miracle.  But it would have been no more incredible if he used just ONE loaf and ONE fish.

The boy gave EVERYTHING.  The boy gave ALL he had.  Jesus took all of it and He multiplied all of it.

God wants to take OUR life to be multiplied to see multitudes impacted with the gospel.

Be like the boy, and give it all.

 

This is our challenge for this year.  Will you give it all?  Will you give your life to Jesus?  Will you say YES to extraordinary things?

 

MANHATTAN (14)

 

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