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Monday, 14 September 2015

Bowing to a Higher Authority

So last night a funny thing happened on the way home: we had a change of Prime Minister. It wasn't too surprising for me - most political reporters had seen the change coming well in advance and so I was informed that it was likely to happen that evening. However, it was disappointing that the change of leader happened in the way that it did. It spoke of an undermining of power and a total lack of integrity. I know some people would say that politicians don't have integrity but I do believe strongly that a good leader doesn't undermine the established authority simply to gain their own.

God has been teaching me about the nature of authority these last few weeks. Having been on teaching placement - and hence in a position of authority - I have come to realise that having leadership and authority creates a need for an individual to make their own life right before they can lead. And to lead means to be in a position of authority and responsibility - which is what I have been in my school. I have a Year 8 class in which I have felt that the students love and fight to usurp the authority of any teacher and in which I have felt slightly before that I lack the authority over them that I should possess.

However, there has been a shift in my attitude as I have continued to pray over the situation that has gone on with this class. I can't say that it has been a drastic change - it's more gradual. What I can say is that as I have recognised that there is a higher authority over all I have been able to walk in supernatural power, rather than just in my own physical and emotional authority in my position. In short - I am choosing to bow to the highest authority over all and recognise today that He is supreme.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 says: "1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."

So, no matter what you think of what is going on in your world and what natural authority you have or is being taken from you remember to bow to the highest authority. Pray for those in positions above you and respect their leadership. In doing so you respect God himself and His sovereignty.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Between Dream and Desire, God Moves

All of us have dreams. Dreams fascinate us while we lie awake - and are as such the topic of poetry such as when Edgar Allan Poe writes 'is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream' - or when we sleep we become enthralled in them. Some of us remember those dreams better than others (I rarely remember mine). Either way the point of the matter is that we all do dream and we use the term 'dreams' for our goals and visions of our life and what we want it to be. Some of us, like with dreaming in sleep, have greater clarity with our life and our goals. Others have far less clarity and are more content to drift through life - a goal in mind but not necessarily a set way to get there.

I am more of the latter, whereas Jeanille as I have come to realise, is more of the former. She also happens to remember her dreams unlike myself and has a greater picture and concept of what she wants from life. I of course, was not necessarily a part of that plan at first. I say this to make a point that all of us dream and plan very differently. My dream is to become an author - or rather my dream is to have a voice in writing that can reach a variety of people. My dream differs from some of the desires I have though: desires to become the best man I can be, the desires to become the best teacher I can be, the desires to marry and have a family etc. But sometimes the desire and the dreams do meet - I desire to write for a large audience and to be a leader of them for example.

The following are two verses highlighting a little of what God says about our dreams:

Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (The context being about worrying about what we will eat or what we will wear - worrying about tomorrow)

Proverbs 16:3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.

God wants us to surrender up our work, our very selves to him. Sometimes it hurts because we look at our dreams and we think we have to kill some of our desires in order to obtain the dream we treasure the most and want to prioritise. Sometimes it hurts because we have to kill our dreams to gain the things we desire out of life. Ultimately though, what needs to happen most with any dream and desire you have is for God to be in the middle of the two - to be in between your dreams and desires. Because in between our dreams and desires - in the middle of our lives - there it is that God moves for us.

If you surrender up your dreams and desires to him ultimately you will find your truest desires - what your heart really needs. My dream to become an author might never be met on Earth - but ultimately that dream is connected to the desire to have an audience with whom I can show off the creative gifts that God has given me and therefore find fulfilment. As Psalm 37:4 states, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart."

So today my encouragement is for you to trust first and foremost in God with any dream or desire that you have that is not being met. If it hurts because you feel that there is some separation between your desires and your dreams then let God come into the middle of it all. There you will find peace and true fulfilment. Even if your dream here on Earth isn't met maybe you will see that the dream or desires that live within that dream will be met in eternity. Because after all, eternity is such a long time for the greater fulfilment of dreams!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The God Who Doesn't Come As Called...

I was having a discussion with Dad and Jeanille the other day and a concept was dropped that made me think about a particular idea: that being just how much we want everything to go our way when we want it. It's a concept that extends to God and how we think our life should be and comes from the story of Lazarus.

Let's start looking at this story from John 11: 1-6
1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 
4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
 The first point that arose from this conversation was the fact that there is an implication in the words of the sisters, "Lord the one that you love is sick." The implication being that there are other people that Jesus did not love so much as Lazarus and that it was important for Jesus to drop everything and come to see Lazarus because of his love for Lazarus. If we move on we see this idea reinforced a little again:
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
If you had been here, my brother would not have died. These are words full of blame and feel like they're designed to guilt trip Jesus as we read them. A blaming of Jesus for not having dropped everything and rushed straight to Lazarus' side. Yet Martha still knew that God would give Jesus whatever he asked of Him and admits that at the end.

If we move to verse 37 it says 'But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”' Here we have many people who openly admit that Jesus has the power to cease death and cause healing but that Jesus had to have come earlier at a time appropriate for them. Yet all this clearly has an impact upon Jesus because verse 38 onwards talks about how Jesus was "once more deeply moved."
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
You see, here is my conclusion to this story and why it is so important for us today still. So many of us are content in our lives for Jesus to come and prevent us from dying. In other words, to stop the little problem that's bad for our health (physical or spiritual) and killing us in that moment but we aren't always content to fix the problem before it leads to something killing us. I'm not fully sure whether Lazarus had a lifestyle that contributed to his death but the moment that he was sick it's apparent that Mary and Martha wanted him to come immediately to heal the man that he loves. But Jesus didn't come immediately, or the day after, no - he came when Lazarus had lain in his tomb for days.

Ultimately here's the lesson: Jesus/God/The Holy Spirit - all three aspects of God - don't act just because you want them to. Our God is not some genie in a bottle. Some people want to flip everything on their head and make God their doG to come when called and do whatever trick they want Him to. Here's the thing though, when God does act? It's with real power - it's not just the power to prevent you from dying, it's the power to completely resurrect you. So my challenge is for us to be people who don't just treat our awesome God as someone who will do whatever we want but to recognise that every answer to prayer is a blessing of grace. We don't deserve it, but it's because his heart breaks for us that God pours out his love in true abundance. We simply need to receive it truly.