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stew

Life is a process of trading one thing for another. We’re all given a certain amount of time and ability which we exchange to gain other things, such as money, food, shelter, relationships, leisure, and pleasure.

We also can trade our identity – who we really are – who God says we are – for other things and if you turn to Genesis 25:29-34 we can read about a shocking exchange between Esau and Jacob that illustrates the danger of trading away who we are.

Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.[a])31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

 

This has to be the worst negotiation in history.  Esau’s birthright meant that not only would he get DOUBLE inheritance but it would mean that he would become head of the family and all the benefits that brings.  It is the door to wealth and prestige.  It is the key to future opportunities and provision.  It was designed to be an incredible blessing for his life and his family, onwards even past his lifetime down the generations.

And he swaps it, he exchanges it for a bowl of lentil stew.

I’m sure you’re all thinking what I’m thinking.  How dumb can you be and still breathe?  What was he thinking?

The reality was that he wasn’t thinking.  He was just doing.  Just living.  Just breathing.  Verse 34 says Esau despised his birthright. This verse reveals the underlying significance of Esau’s actions. “To despise” means to treat something as worthless or with contempt. Esau’s willingness to sell his birthright was evidence that he considered it to be unimportant.  He lived for the here and now. “Who needs a birthright?” he thought. “After all, I may be dead tomorrow. What I need now is a good meal. What good is a birthright if I starve to death?”

His birthright should have been something he valued and protected and lived in the reality of – instead Esau trades it away for a bowl of lentil stew.

We point fingers and scorn Esau.  We shake our heads dismayed at the choice he has made.

But we all like Esau have gone astray and we have all played the trade game and exchanged our identity for lesser things.  We have all traded things that we should value in our lives for things that are of the same value as lentil stew.

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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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claire dp 1When I was 16 I lived in Blenheim and would get awesome summer jobs at fruit farms over the holidays.  One year I worked for The Jones Strawberry Farm picking strawberries, a delicious but back breaking job.  I then worked for an Apricot farmer, as a picker first of all, but then in the pack house because as we quickly discovered being near the ground is an excellent quality for a strawberry picker, not so great for an apricot picker.   My day revolved around sorting the fruit, packing the fruit, stacking the packs of fruit.  Sort, stack, pack.  I was the only one in the pack house and so spent long hot days sorting, stacking, packing.

On Tuesday a friend of mine shared a hilarious take on the myers briggs personality types on facebook – The post begins with “They say that one man’s heaven is another man’s hell and that couldn’t be truer when it comes to the sixteen Myers-Briggs Personality Types. Each one is inspired, enraged and absolutely tortured by something slightly different. Here’s the destiny that would psychologically destroy each Myers-Briggs Personality type.”

Im and ENFP and this is what it said about me.  Every minute of the rest of your life has been scheduled for you – and it’s a long series of arbitrary, solitary tasks.

Sort. Pack. Stack.  By myself.  Sort. Pack. Stack.   For 2 long months.  Thankfully not the rest of my life.   The first few days of the job were great.  Good time to pray and think, I’m by myself, I can contemplate the great mysteries of the universe and dream and plan my future.  After about a week of sort, pack and stack, by myself, a long series of arbitrary, solitary tasks, I found myself going slightly cookcoo, because how many of you know, especially if you are an ENFP there is only so much deep and meaningful productive positive thinking you can do by yourself.. through another person in the mix and boom, you’re happy, but conversating with yourself, just isn’t the same. and contemplating what is the meaning of life.  The big questions.  What was I here for.  What is God’s plan for my life.  How will I get there.  Who am I, really.

Whether you’re in a job you hate or a job you love, whether you’re at school or uni, whatever stage of life you’re at these are important questions.  What does real living look like?  Because there is a difference between being alive and living, really living.

We can go through life, even successfully, ticking the boxes that define achievement for us, getting the great job, marrying the great person, having the great kids and the great cat and the great house, travelling to the great places etc etc but even that can miss the mark of what living really is.

 

Paul summed it up in 4 simple words in Philippians 1:21

To live is Christ.

This is one those rare times when Paul is brief.  Usually he has sentence with too many commas and plenty of detail and flesh.  But this one is 4 words.  To live is Christ.

 

In 2 Cor 5:15 he says  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him.

This is the standard he is living by.  This is how he defines his life.  This is the mission statement that wraps parameters and boundaries around not only the big picture but also day to day.  Paul is saying that everything he has tried to be, everything he is, and everything he looked forward to being pointed to Christ. To live is Christ.

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“The point of your life is to point to Him. Whatever you are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His. It is His movie, His world, His gift.”  — Francis Chan
The big idea today is that the depth of your character will determine the vertical depth and horizontal reach of your influence.
The further and faster your influence extends, the deeper your foundation of character and conviction must be.
Public service requires private submission.
Build who you are off the stage and behind the stage and beside the stage way before you start thinking about getting on the stage.
Have you ever met someone and they talked a good talk but didnt walk the walk?  How did you feel? Disappointed?  Let down?  As a youth pastor and as a person I am always thinking what is it like to live on the other side of me?  What do people see when they see my life?  Am I living in such a way that those who see me will want to know God more?
We all are growing credibility accounts with people – and our character will either make deposits or withdrawls in that account.
Spiritual maturity isn’t based on how much truth you know, but on how much truth you live.
Jesus is interested in our heart and our behaviour.  His mission is to transform us  The good news is we dont have to clean ourselves up ever to come to Him but that He is at work in us to make us willing to be transformed.  Christianity isnt a bunch of rules but about a relationship but the way we live our lives does matter and make a difference, first with our vertical relationship with God, and secondly in the horizontal relationships with the people in our world.
 

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healedAt our church we passionately believe that God heals.  In Exodus 15:26 God reveals that His very name is Jehovah Rapha, I am the God that heals you.  It is deep in the heart and character of God to heal and transform lives.  It is in the very fabric of who He is to heal.

In Psalm 103 we read

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Healing is something very personal to me.  It’s been neat on fb this past week seeing fb memories about discovering I was allergic to wheat, beginning regular specialist visits, having copious amounts of blood tests, and yes, having to go gluten free… In fact in space of a few weeks I was gluten free, diary free to add to my egg free, nut free, seafood free, fruit free and it felt like, taste free.  One test revealed that I was 3000x the limit of what a normal person’s rate would be.   It was a diagnosis at the end of a 24 month journey of constant unwellness and reactions.  In one test they did out of the 18 things they tested I was allergic to 15 of them.  Only to go back the next month to say, oh you’re also allergic to these things now too.  18 out of 18.  Over achiever!

Now I tell this not to brag about myself but to brag about Jesus and to declare that He is the same today as He was  yesterday and will be tomorrow.

My life changed at His Presence Conference in 2014 one of the speakers begun the session saying that he had some specific conditions that he was going to call out and that God was going to heal.

Carpal tunnel.  Arthritis.  And then severe food allergies.  I stood up.  Now I had been prayed for so many times.  So many.  And sometimes saw some changes but was still battling the condition.  And sometimes people would pray for me and say wanna test it and I would be like, bless your heart. NO!

But this time as people prayed for me I had a sense from God that YES I could eat!   I KNEW I was healed.

So I did!  We had a lovely morning tea prepared around the corner and I grabbed some yummy caramel slice and ate it.

Now this would be a trillion times more than my body could have handled.  If I was reacting it would take about a minute for me to become uncontrollably itchy, for my lips to swell and for my temperature to rise, for me to feel dizzy and like my brain was fritzing out and well, there were other unpleasant things too that would have me in the bathroom for the day.

But none of that happened.  So I ate half a piece of toast the next day.  And the pizza the week later.   And donuts.

No problems.  Completely healed.

I tell you this because testimonies stir our faith.  They remind us that God can do the impossible, and I say if He can do it for me, He can do it for you.

We believe God heals and love to pray for healing.  We understand sometimes it is a process.  I had a few years of process to walk through UNTIL my healing, just like how blind bartimaeus was blind UNTIl Jesus healed him, just as the lepers had leprosy UNTIL Jesus healed them, just as Lazerus was dead UNTIL Jesus healed him and raised him from death.  But we stretch out in faith in every part of the journey, declaring and celebrating that our God is the God that heals.

Isaiah 53:5 says He was pierced for our transgressions, and he was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his stripes we are healed.

But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole and we received healing from his wounds

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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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Zacchaeus-Encounters-Jesus.jpg

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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be-strong-courageous

Christine Caine posted on fb recently “I encourage you today to embrace the change necessary in order to grow into the success that God has prepared for you. God calls us to step up and into His promises and purposes, and He will give you the grace to run your race.” ~ Christine Caine

We have to be aware of our weaknesses and be prepared to grow and deal with our stuff.  We all have stuff.  We all have flaws.   We waste an enormous amount of energy trying to cover up our sins, our hurts, our hang-ups, and our defects. If we spent as much time being honest about what’s not right in our life as we do covering it up, we’d have a lot more energy for what is right in our life.

The thing about weaknesses is that we often on our strengths but leave ourselves vulnerable to attack, or to falling over in that area.  During WW2 Singapore was a very powerful military base.  With a seemingly impenetrable jungle behind it they focused all their defences towards the sea.  However the city was conquered, not by sea but by the Japanese who cut a single track bicycle track through the jungle.

The battle for sin starts in our mind, not in our behaviour. The way we think determines the way we feel, and the way we feel determines the way we act. If we want to change the way we act, we start by changing the way you think and feel by aligning it to the Word of God.

 

This is the beauty of the call of God, that he chooses to do extraordinary things with ordinary people, with broken people, with messy people.  He uses rescued people to rescue people.  That takes courage in itself, to be open to God.  We know He sees all and knows all but how many of us like to pretend that that there are places in our heart that He cannot see?  Or is that just me? We have a responsibility to not stay the same, to not hide from ourselves but to be honest and to let God into those places.

 

 

God uses change to change us. He doesn’t use it to destroy us or to distract us, but to coax us to the next level of character, experience, compassion and destiny!   God uses change to transform us so we can live a best life and have relationshi8ps that flourish and can make the most of the opportunities that come our way.

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be-strong-courageous

Courage leads to faith.  Courage puts you in the seat of the roller coaster and straps you in but faith is knowing that you’re going to zoom, its the confidence that its designed right and that every mechanical thing is working and functioning and that in 25 seconds you’ll be able to breathe at normal speed again…

 

Courage caused Jonathan and his armour bearer to leave the safety of the snooze under the pomegranate tree, but faith took them into the battle and the victory.  Once they heard the enemy say “come on up here” they knew that God was at work and that nothing was impossible.

 

Elijah’s faith was in a God who would answer by fire – on an altar drenched with water.  Natural circumstance did not matter or deter his faith.

 

Moses knew that God had called him up onto a mountain of fire and thunder and went up and encountered God.  His faith was in the God who had called him would keep him and sustain him and the Bible says that he was up there for 40 days and 40 nights with no food or water.

 

Faith says if God said it then it will happen.  It believes that God is good and the best is yet to come.  It believes that God is at work all the time and in all things and that He works out all things for good.

 

Faith isn’t a what – it is in a who.  We have faith in an incredible God who breathed out the stars, who created the universe, who knows how many hairs you have on your head and knows all the thoughts and dreams of your heart.  We have faith in a God who loves us so much that 2000 years ago Jesus came and lived a perfect life that we could never live and he died the death we should have, punished for the sins of all the world, for your sin, my sin.  Sin is the dumb stuff we do, the things that push us away from God.  God is perfect and holy and could have just left it at that but He wanted to be our Father and to be our friend.  So Jesus came and lived and died and took our place – its like he exchanged his perfect rap sheet for our rubbish rap sheet and now we can be called innocent and not guilty.

 

This is who we have faith in.  The God who has done everything to make us His friend.  The God who created you on purpose with a purpose.  The God who holds the universe together and is at work yesterday, today, tomorrow.

 

be-strong-courageous

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” So all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. 31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord had come, saying, “Israel shall be your name.”[b] 32 Then with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord; and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 And he put the wood in order, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood, and said, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” 34 Then he said, “Do it a second time,” and they did it a second time; and he said, “Do it a third time,” and they did it a third time. 35 So the water ran all around the altar; and he also filled the trench with water.  1 kings 18

 

We’ve got to get ready in the simple every day parts of our lives.  If you want fire in your life you don’t just go “boom here I am, I’m ready” – you prepare.

 

The amazing encounter with God, the fire falling on the altar came after the altar was rebuilt, after the trench was dug, after the wood was cut and after the ox was prepared.  All of these elements take work.  Digging.  Building.  Hard Labour.   Elijah had to prepare for the fire to come.

 

Paul puts it like this – fan into flame.  Press on.  Run the race.

 

Chop the wood.  Pray.  Read the Bible.  Go to church.   Serve.  Give.  Worship.

 

Do the everyday things to make your life an altar for the fire to fall.

 

Chopping the wood takes time, effort, and consistency.  It is often done in the unseen places, in private preparation.

 

Have you ever watched a movie and been amazed at the transformation of an actor?  I know things like that fascinate me and I am a geek so often will look up stuff about the behind the scenes information about movies and actors.

 

For example, Hugh Jackman used to run on a treadmill at the gym and sing at the top of his lungs to prepare for Les Mis.

 

Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson spent so many hours training with their lightsabers for the highly coordinated battles that they had to actually slow down the footage because they were too good.

 

Here’s a geeky thing for you:  when Star Wars – The Phantom Menace was released in 1999 2.2 million employees in the US skipped word to see the movie.  This unauthorized absence was estimated to have cost the US economy $293million!

 

We see the finished product and enjoy the entertainment but behind the scenes someone has spent hours preparing for that role.

 

Your life is telling a story and this year is a brand new chapter in that adventure.

 

What are the everyday private things, the behind the scenes things, the decisions, the actions, the disciples, that frame your life and prepare you for the highlight reel moments?

 

What are the habits that you have curated that build your life a life of faithfulness?

 

What are the intentional actions that you do to build your marriage, to love on your kids, to connect with those in your world, to grow in your calling and steward the life that God has given you?

 

Character is learning how to make the little choices along the way that ultimately add up to who we become. It’s learning when to say yes and when to say no.

 

Building a lifestyle of worship, of faithfulness, of passion and purpose chops the wood and gets you ready for the fire to fall.

 

It’s like you’re painting a massive target on your life saying here am I Lord, send me!

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