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The other week I had a dream I knew was from God.  Last night I shared about it with my youth at HKC as they were main characters in it.

In my dream a whole bunch of us were in a massive hotel.  It had many floors and elevators and stairs.  We were in a room with huge glass windows and glass French doors that showed us the rest of the hotel.  It had a library and big tv and comfy sofas.  While we were hanging out the hotel hallways started to fill with people.  Some were faces I knew and some were strangers.  Then there was a noise.  We looked out the windows to the outside and into the hallways and the hotel was been taken over by daleks.

The Daleks were going round saying EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE and zapping people.  We moved the couches and shelves over the doors and barricaded ourselves in the big safe room.  But we realized that the people in the halls were in danger and at opportune moments we would pull the couches back and then rush into the halls warning people and getting them to come into the big safe room with us.  In the big room they could read and rest or watch a movie.  More and more people joined us and then more and more people were going into the hallways and up the stairs and rescuing people.

RESCUED PEOPLE RESCUE PEOPLE

 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[e] so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Cor 5:19-21

Being a rescuer starts from the inside out.  It starts with making rescuing a priority.  It starts with aligning our heart and goals and identity with His heart, His goals and His identity.

It starts with knowing that our mission is to know God and make Him known, that “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” Luke 19:10.  Like really knowing.

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I want to tell you a story about someone short.  I can identify.  I mean I have to say I’m real happy there are some new year 7s in here because me and Mikayla are no longer the shortest people here!

 

Anyway my story is about this short guy called Zacchaeus.

Now they say that good things come in small packages but that was so not true about Zacchaeus.  He was the chief tax collector in his area and made a living ripping people off.  People didn’t like him very much and defriended him on facebook and didn’t invite him to their parties or out to McDs for a frozen coke.

Anyway he heard that Jesus was in town and for some reason just kinda felt like he should go and see him.  Like everyone else in his town.

Now short people problems here.   No matter where he stood he couldn’t see.   And people wouldn’t move to make way for him.  So he ran ahead and climbed a tree beside so he could see Jesus.

When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.

 

Did you catch that.  Jesus was walking by the tree, looked up and called Zacchaeus by name.

In the crowd Jesus saw this short guy.  He picked him out.  He knew His name.

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Does anyone here when they watch movies find that they are linking the movie to stuff in the Bible or seeing parallels between the gospel and the characters in the movie?  Just me?

 

How many times have we seen a film where a handful of brave souls take a stand against evil? Consider The Lord of the Rings, where the fellowship is pitted against the forces of Mordor, or the recent Star Wars, which features a light side and dark side.  It’s Xavier vs Magneto.  Autobots vs Decepticons.

One of the most heart-wrenching moments in The Chronicles of Narnia is when Aslan surrenders himself to save Edmund. It’s a horrible, beautiful moment when power of love is on full display.   How many times have we seen one of the good guys give up their life, or think they’re giving up their life, or give up something else important, in order to save the day?  Beauty and the Beast.  Saving Private Ryan.  Batman vs Superman.

We love seeing the underdog win.  We love seeing the flawed hero overcome their struggle to win the day.  We love happy endings.

Cinderella meets her prince charming.

Nemo and his dad are reunited.

Westly and Buttercup get married.

 

Is it also just me that cries in almost every movie they see?  Tangled.   Yes.  Cinderella.  Yes.  Star Trek.  Yes.  Force Awakens.  No.  Seriously.

And this part in Thor.

I think my favourite Marvel movie so far is Thor.   Thor really is awesome!

Thor in the movie is sent to earth because of his pride and arrogance by his father Odin the All Father to learn some humility.

NOT A PARALLEL to the Bible.

Stripped of his super powers and cut off from his home in the heavens he walks as one of us – an extremely ripped version of one of us but still.

Unable to wield his might hammer Thor comes to accept that he is no longer worthy of his esteemed position as the Crown Prince of Asgard (his home world). Yet when we the good people of earth are threatened by The Destroyer (a super powered Asgardian security guard) Thor steps up to face the threat despite his (relatively) feeble form. He is willing to sacrifice himself to save us.

There are obviously many differences between Thor and Jesus but the similarity of the basic story of the Son of God sacrificing himself in order to save us should be familiar to most of us.

Philippians 2:5-11 says this – this is what Jesus did and who Jesus is….

Jesus who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!   Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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This weekend our church are holding a Prayer Burn.  People have booked a room and will spend it alone for an hour, with God.  The event runs for 24 hours and the 48 spaces were booked within a few hours!  That’s a good sign!

Our HKC Youth are joining in in a slightly different way.  We’re meeting as  usual with with a prayer/worship focus.  I’ve got some amazing speakers who are real genuine “praying” people and some great testimonies and practical interactive stations for people to give it a go.  One station even has M&Ms.  Seriously.

Prayer is so powerful because it joins the hearts of people on earth with the heart of God in heaven. When we pray, we connect with God, and He affects our daily lives beyond our comprehension.

I believe prayer is one of the greatest powers available in the entire universe. That may seem like a radical statement, but it’s so true!

Prayer opens the door for God to work. It is the activity that we can engage in on earth when we need the power of heaven to come into our lives and bring wisdom, healing, hope, direction, encouragement or a miraculous breakthrough. Prayer connects us to God, and that is why it is a greater “force” than anything else we can ever imagine.

Only God’s power can bring peace, instill joy, grant wisdom, impart a sense of value and purpose to a person who doesn’t know what to do in life.  Prayer changes us and it changes circumstances.

Do you want to see that power work in your life? Then make prayer a priority.

Prayer is very powerful.  It changes us from the inside out and does change things in our world.  When I was first saved I joined a girls prayer group.  It was scary.  I didn’t know the right words or anything.  I spent ages just listening before I dared to pray out loud.  A funny thing though – it was a really messy time for me, that transition from being not a Christian to being a Christian, changing the way I lived.   And when I missed a prayer group meeting they would pray for me and there would be dramatic changes.  I broke up with a guy who was not a Christian.  And then I dated another guy and guess what, missed the prayer meeting and broke up.    Even just last week I had twisted my ankle at the zoo and got prayed for on Sunday and woke up on Monday with it fine.  Yay Jesus!

Prayer can change your family, change peoples hearts, give you ideas and strategies.  But most importantly, prayer connects us with the heart of God who loves us, who loves you.

Prayer isn’t just an empty box to tick off on your to-do checklist. Every day you get to speak to the One who created and is sustaining a universe.  That’s amazing!

But now think about this:
The same God who knows the names of every star knows your name.
The same God who is holding the universe in the expanse of His hands is holding you in His hands.

Prayer is so much more than the puny, ordinary thing we make it out to be. And that’s because the One we’re praying to is not only so much bigger than we’ll ever be able to comprehend. But also so much more willing to respond to us than we’ll ever be able to comprehend as well.

You might be as small as a grain of sand, but you have a privilege no star or galaxy will ever have. Take advantage of it today. Lay your requests before God. And wait in expectation.

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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I just spent the last week with the most amazing young people from HKC Youth (I have the privilege of being their youth pastor) camping out at church and then travelling into the city to ASCEND YOUTH CONFERENCE run by Life Church NZ.  It was phenomenal watching a generation of people encounter Jesus and go hard out in worship for Jesus.  The speakers were fantastic and challenging and the atmosphere electric with passion.
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The challenge between Elijah on Mt Carmel tells of the Greater Story. Jesus came and lived and died so that you could be friends with God. He stretched His arms out on the cross, on the top of another mountain, and proved that nothing is impossible for God, and that God deserves all the glory, all our lives. It wasn’t the blood of bulls that was shed and sacrificed but the blood of a perfect man who laid His life down for me and for you. It wasn’t 3 jars of water that made it impossible for Jesus but 3 days in the grave – but it could not stop God’s power! Jesus died on the top of that hill and proved once and for all that God’s love is real and that God’s grace is real and that God is real.

And His death issues the same challenge as Elijah did. If the Lord is God, follow Him.

I love the story of Elijah on Mt Carmel.

By the way – i hate that word, story.   Its not a fairy tale or a make believe “story” but a real life account of something that really happened in history.

But doesn’t it just blow your mind.  It’s the greatest showdown.  God vs Baal.  Elijah, the lone ranger, vs the Baal prophets.

Fire from heaven.

Drama and humour.

But how is this relevant for us here today?

  1. Nothing is impossible for God.  No amount of water could stop God from boom showing up.  Though all the circumstances said NO WAY, God came by fire.  He proved Himself regardless.    In our life, no matter what the circumstance says God can and will and does move.
  1. It’s for His glory. There was no way that that altar could catch on fire by itself.  The odds were stacked against it.  In our lives we got to live for His glory.  We don’t create the fire, we don’t make the fire, we don’t own the fire.  Anything great that God does – GOD does.  Not us.   Live for His glory and the fire will come.

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“When we know the truth about God, it fills us with wonder. If we fail to understand his true character, we’ll never be amazed by Him. We’ll never feel small as we stare up at Him. We’ll never worship Him as we ought. We’ll never run to Him for refuge or realize the great love He’s shown in bridging the measureless distance to rescue us.” Dug Down Deep / Joshua Harris

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I’m going to give you 5 reasons why God blows my mind… and should or could blow yours

  1. God is so creative

It never ceases to surprise me how radical and creative God is.  And every day scientists are discovering new things, not only about the universe and stars, but about our own planet and even our own bodies.

In fact, scientists discovered 18000 new species last year!

Did you also know that if you stretched out your DNA code it would stretch all the way to the sun and back 4 times!  It would stretch out to the moon and back 1500 times!

The human genome, the genetic code in each human cell, contains 23 DNA molecules each containing from 500 thousand to 2.5 million nucleotide pairs. DNA molecules of this size are 1.7 to 8.5 cm long when uncoiled, or about 5 cm on average.

You have about 10 trillion cells in your body, so if you stretched the DNA in all the cells out, end to end, they’d stretch over 744 million miles. The sun is 93,000,000 miles away, so your DNA would reach there and back about 4 times!

And if you laid out all your veins from end to end you’d be dead.

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IF YOU SEEK THE LORD
This term at HKC we’ve asked the 3 big questions. …

Who am I?
Where am I going?
How do I get there?

In week 1 we looked at how God made us on purpose with a purpose, that he likes us, loves us and that is not about being a copy of anyone but about being you.  The world needs you, not a fake.

In week 2 caleb talked about how God has about plan for our lives…. Jeremiah 29:11, in fact the bible says that before you were born ….

So, we know that God made us on purpose and with a purpose… but 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 didnt 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.  Probalby 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 frirend.  Hey Fee, Claire here.  Help I’m LOST and um, yeah that toll bridge thing.

Ended up that I wasnt lost, I just wasnt there yet.  And we didnt have to go the toll bridge, we had to take some off ramp with a weird name that didnt 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 didnt 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 isnt random.  He didnt 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 doesnt 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.  Habit B.  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.    Habit H: 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 doesnt 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.
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