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Grieve Well, With Hope. (for those who mourn Leah Whyte)

Leah Whyte.  I was not close to her, but some of my closest friends were some of her closest friends and family.
Words; people say there’s nothing can be said, and though there are times and places where nothing should be said, (and there will be many of those over the next few weeks), words have power.  Having decided not to, I’ve now decided to carefully and with tears write a blog for those who loved Leah not as a tribute but hopefully as a help and to let you know that many are mourning your lost with you.  

In the words of her mum ‘Leah was ready to die, we were not ready to say goodbye.’  
Though we can barely believe it we must hold on to the truth that God is faithful. By God is faithful we mean that His faithfulness can be depended on.  We can trust in it fully.
God’s is faithful.  Truth is these words go deep, much deeper than we sometimes give them credit for.  This depth is truly realised when death comes and unapologetically interrupts our lives. 

Death is sad, no matter how ready someone is or how ready we know they are, it’s sad.  Friends please grieve, mourn and grieve because this is not the way it should be. 
God can and does work for the good and bring good out of evil.  But God is the one who gives life and it is this fallen world and the enemy who takes it away…
We do great damage to ourselves and our thoughts about God when we look at something wrong/evil and try to call it good. 
As those who mourn we need to be able to say:
“This is not good:
This is not the way it should be
This is a tear in the fabric of God’s good creation
And God weeps over it and rages against it
And one day will defeat this enemy for good and restore all the goodness”

And that’s the thing, this is not good, but we have a good God.  ‘And what then shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us.’  Not even death can stand against us.
For like Jesus when faced with Jairus’ daughter or standing at the tomb of His friend Lazarus, He wept.  It was not good yet he did not finish with weeping.  Like Jesus we too can mock the clutch of death and call it sleep.  For we know and we trust that the same man who raised Lazarus has been to the cross, has defeated that final enemy and has rose victorious. CHRIST HAS RISEN, CHRIST HAS RISEN INDEED. 
And it is Him, who now says to Horace’s daughter as He did to Jairus’ daughter ‘young girl, its time to wake up’, let me show you heaven for great is your inheritance here. 
And Leah will do what she loved to do…
Worship. 
She is with her Lord, where those of us who’ve trusted Jesus are going too.
So I ask you to:
Grieve well, but with hope.

This is how the story will end. These words have power, not simply because of how beautiful they are, but because they are a promise from our faithful Father.
Revelation 21:3-5a
“I heard a loud voice from the throne saying. ‘Look! God’s dwelling-place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said ‘I am making everything new’.”

As those who mourn we’ve a few important choices to make for ourselves…

  • Choose to be better not bitter.
  • Choose to believe the truth not the lies.
  • Choose to rise to Hope not fall to despair.
  • Choose to focus on eternity not the temporary.
  • Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and your heart in eternity.

Leah is alive, in-fact she is happy.  I know this because we can depend on God’s faithfulness.  God is faithful.  Death is no-longer the final enemy but marks the start of eternity an eternity where we will meet Leah and together with everyone praise the God who is good who gives life.  For he has promised; and he is faithful.

Where O death is your victory. 
Grieve well, with hope…

Standing on Grace, Andrew.

 

Jairus daughter story is in Mark 5:21-43

Leah

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3 words for mission.

I’ve got three words for the church in Ireland. Words I think we don’t include in our thinking when we endeavor to preach the Gospel with our lives together. Proclaiming the Gospel, in Ireland, we need to remember to be; Simple, Urgent and Flexible.

Simple.
The Gospel takes the greatest of minds to understand the complexity and fullness of it’s mysteries, however a 3 year old can accept it, and we must continually keep our witness simple enough for people to understand, and if asked or receive opportunity, we must, for Christ’s sake we must explain simply the Gospel message.

Urgent.
Mission is urgent. Why? Because there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to loose for every single person you will ever; talk to over the shopping counter, be class-mates with, see through your car window, shake hands with, pass on the street.  It’s urgent, but it’s not to be rushed. When we’re in a rush we forget things, and do them half-assed but when something is urgent, we make sure it’s done right, fully and in good time.

Flexible.
Or proclaiming for the Gospel should be simple and urgent but flexible, not a one size fits all approach.  The Gospel is the same message for everyone, God has made grace available who whoever calls Jesus ‘Lord’. But you simply don’t tell a friend the same way you’d tell a stranger, you don’t explain it to a child the same way you’d explain it to your mum.  Jesus when talking to the rich man said, ‘sell all you have,’ when talking to nicodemus he said, ‘you must be born again,’ or to peter, ‘follow me and I’ll make you a fisher of men.’ The Gospel must not be diluted but we must make sure our friends/families etc understand the Gospel in their level of understanding. Using hip and trendy phrases wont make the Gospel any more understandable to a 60 year old bachelor farmer, nor will using big words help a child understand.   

Simple, Urgent, Flexible.

The Devil’s Outreach and the forgotten tool of evangelism (Jesus’ will Jesus’ way part 2)

We cannot live for Jesus without living like Jesus.  
We cannot do the will of Jesus without living the way of Jesus.

Jesus’ will Jesus’ way. (part 2)
please let me know what you think of this, all discussion is welcome! 

Once we have a grasp on the fact that we cannot and should not do the will of God without doing it in the way of God.  That is, for the Father’s glory, copying the life of Jesus and doing it through the Spirits power.  This new age that Jesus brought in, and the mission He left us with, to make disciples in His name teaching them to love.  It must be done in the way of Jesus.  Jesus’ life matters immensely.  It is the example that God choose to show us, how life is meant to be lived, how we are to live this Kingdom Life, this Resurrection Life.  The sermon on the mount, the parables, the encounters He had with people, the way He addressed His parents and followers, the way He played with children, the things He wept about, the things He celebrated, should be the nut’s and bolts of what we use to put our lives together.  All of His weeping, jumping, playing, teaching, story telling, eating, chatting, Sabbath observing, praying, waiting, sacrificing, walking on water, cooking breakfast, these things should be always on our minds, if we are going to live like Jesus; if we are to follow.
The first thing you do when following is observe, and you keep observing that which you’re following as you begin to walk in the pre-trodden footprints.  

So as we specifically look at the mission of Disciple making, the extending of God’s kingdom which we are all called to, I think we need to look at the start of Jesus’ mission when He started. 
When we think about making disciples, I’m beginning to find that Satan is trying to tempt us into doing the right thing the wrong way, he tries to get us so focused on the will of God, that we forget the way of God.   We still give it the label ‘outreach’ and it seems to do the job of making us feel good about our engagement in God’s kingdom.
This seems to be satan’s first tactic. 
He get’s us to simply serve God not be a servant of God.  You can serve someone solely on your terms, however you cannot be a servant on your terms.  You do not follow Jesus by ‘helping’ Him along in his mission. No. You partake in it, you become a servant and follower you personify his mission as a lifestyle.  

Jesus didn’t just tell the truth, He was the truth; Jesus didn’t just show the way, He was the way; Jesus didn’t just introduce you to the life, He lived the life.  

So when Jesus was about to start announcing the Kingdom of God, the kingdom He would rule, He was tempted by Satan in three ways. I believe this is recorded for us as a warning that when we start to think of How we are going to make disciples, we will be tempted in the same way and to watch we don’t fall into the trap of setting up God’s kingdom in a faster, more efficient manner, one which we think God hasn’t yet considered.  The story is in Matt 4 and Luke 4.

Jesus was tempted to make stones into bread.
And He could have, in-fact he could have made all the stones in the world into bread and ended world poverty.  He could have lived showing off His ‘super-powers’ and lets be honest that would have been a real eye catcher. He could have promised bread for all who pledged alliance to him, he could of pointed his finger at trees and made them crumble to dust and then re-grow in 10 seconds.
He could have, but He didn’t. 
He didn’t bribe people into the kingdom, He was no prosperity Gospel preacher, He did not put on a magic show to ‘attract’ people into the church. He built relationships with people, He told people it was their faith that healed them, He wasn’t looking for a pledge of alliance for some surface level “you serve me and I’ll change your stones into bread” contract.  He knew only the world of covenant, a messy relationship filled community.
Jesus didn’t come to save the world by preaching prosperity and bribing people into the kingdom and neither should we.

Jesus was tempted to show-off His standing with Heaven.
The Devil temps Jesus to jump off the temple into a crowed market place, I’m sure with many important people in the crowd.  The angels from heaven would come to His rescue and everyone would see just how important He is and bow down and worship Him.  What’s wrong with that?  Well, He could have made a celebrity out of Himself, walking around with visible angels at His side. He could of kept that huge choir of angels that appeared at His birth as His opening act when he came to a town near you.
He could have but He didn’t. 
He didn’t try to make a celebrity out of Himself, when He was in Jewish regions and someone said ‘you’re the son of God’ He was like ‘keep that down will you’.  Relationships were so important to Him that He wanted to get right down to our level so He could have real friendships.  He wasn’t looking for some sort of celebrate status so He could increase His influence levels and impact the world.  He knew only the world of humble loving, relationships.
Jesus didn’t come to save the world by showing off and becoming a celebrity whose better than other people and neither should we.

Jesus temped to have control over people by force.
The Devil temps Jesus by showing Him all the kingdoms of the world and saying, “you came to be their king didn’t you? Well, I can make that happen for you right now, no need for Geathsamine no need for the cross just pure lordship.” well I’m sure that was tempting! But then came the decision making comment from the lier, “only if you bow to me first.”  Now He could have became king by force, He could have followed the way of the devil. He could have used his power to manipulate and intimidate people into being subject to His rule. 

He could have but He didn’t.  
He didn’t force people to obey, He didn’t make people come into His kingdom, He didn’t take advantage of people’s emotional state.  Relationships have to be a free choice, Jesus knew this. So many times He let people reject Him sometimes without much care it seems.  He always gave people the choice to follow or not, He didn’t even butter up his kingdom, often telling people how much they’d have to give up. He knew only the world of a trusting, freely following relationship. Jesus didn’t bring people into His kingdom by force or taking advantage of them and neither should we.

Neither should we, preach prosperity Gospel, come into the kingdom and all your stones will turn to bread!

Neither should we, embrace celebrity culture, come to the kingdom because David Beckham thinks it’s a good idea.

Neither should we, leave people with no choice, taking advantage of their emotional state or leaving them with no choice. 

The three big temptations of Jesus, are still very evident as we continue in Jesus’ mission to the world, we are tempted to do the right thing the wrong way:
To preach that all your stones will become bread if you come to our church
To preach that, ‘hey look being a Christian is cool, just look at this cool rock star we have who became a Christian.’
And to force people into the church with threats and bribes into professing Christ. 
Would be to follow the devil’s plan for church outreach.  

We need to study Jesus’ life in detail, we need to read the gospels as part of our routine, to allow them to absorb into our character and into our church mission plans.  What if we were to plan our church’s outreach with using no other references or templates other than the 4 gospels.  The woman at the well, Jesus’ focus on prayer, how he challenged hypocrites, who he spent time with, His over dinner conversations, His public speaking.  How would our churches look if we didn’t follow the:
‘come to our service and get free tea/coffee a KFC voucher, oh, and you’ll get richer’,
‘come to our service and meet a celeb’,
‘come to our service, or else’, approach.

Relationship is the scaffolding of Jesus’ kingdom building, a real one, with a real Jesus.
Is relationship the forgotten tool of evangelism?
my prayer
‘Oh to have a pure witness, unwavering and boldly following Jesus.
Please Holy Spirit lead me to be more like your son. I love you and long for you.’

Standing on Grace.

ps
Sorry if this sounded harsh. I feel I myself fall into the devils temptation to do the right thing the wrong way often. 
I’m hoping to do part 3 of “Jesus’ will Jesus’ way” 

if we lose this generation:

If we lose this generation of young people from God’s kingdom:

It wont be because we challenged them too much, but because we challenged them too little.
It wont be because we asked too much of them, but because we didn’t believe in them enough.
It wont be because we pushed them too much, but because we didn’t dare them enough.
It wont be because our teaching isn’t relevant enough, but because it’s not radical enough.
It wont be because of the expression of our worship, but because of the reason why we worship.
It wont be because we’ve made the life of faith too complicated, but because we’ve made it too comfortable.
It wont be because we haven’t been responsible enough, but because we haven’t trusted them with responsibility.
It wont be because our church isn’t culturally relevant enough, but because our church isn’t culture changing enough.

If we lose this generation from the kingdom of God
It wont be because we haven’t made the Gospel simple enough, but because we haven’t made it life changing enough.

Because we haven’t believed, I mean really believed in the life-changing power of Scripture, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit who longs to guide them on the adventure which is the life of faith.

Standing on Grace

God is good, right?

ok.
so I know that you know, and you know that I know, that we all know, that there’s places in our lives that we wont let God call the shots.  Some big places some small places but definitely places!

I mean we’ve given Him our lives but not our… …
You fill in the blank,
because if I say an example and it’s not your example then you’ll probably think I don’t even know about that example, or that i’m not talking to you.  
You know what i’m saying?
Truth is the Holy Spirit is telling us each something, some area that we need to let God have control of. 

In light of this I want to ask a few questions.

  1. Do you believe God is a good God?
  2. Do you believe God is a fair God?
  3. Do you believe God wants what’s best for His children?
  4. Do you believe God has already defeated the power that is holding you back?

Then why don’t you just trust Him?

Take His hand and trust His lead. Surrender yours.

Standing on Grace

Actively Discipling; Patiently Reliant (Jesus’ will Jesus’ way : part 1)

Hey, feel this is very important for us.  Would appreciate your thoughts.

Jesus could have said anything to His disciples when he was leaving earth, however He left His disciples (us) with a mission, goal, calling, dream.  He had poured into these men and women over the past years and now, was passing on the baton, but sending His Spirit to continue His dream.

Matthew records it like this:
Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”

Mark records:
Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.”

Luke records:
“It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things.”

John records:
Feed my sheep (addressing Peter)… …Follow me”

One thing for sure is that it’s an active calling, not one that allows for laziness.  There is also a big emphasis that we’re to do this in the same power, the power of Jesus, that it’s His work.  John’s ‘follow me’, Matthew’s ‘I am with you always’, Luke’s ‘in the authority of his name’ and Mark’s ‘and the Lord worked with them’ are there as markers (like post-it notes on the door out of your house) saying that this will be the Spirit’s doing and they annihilate any notion that we’re to be active for the Kingdom in our own strength.

These 2 things cannot be ignored. The Gospel writers have insured we don’t. 
That we are to do Jesus’ will, Jesus’ way.  

Our world is full of people, organisations, governments, families, businesses who so often do the right thing, the wrong way.  We bring peace by dropping bombs, we show love to our families by being away from home for 6 months at a time providing for them, we give some of our organisations profits to charity so we can run a feel good advertising campaign, we be kind so that they’ll ‘owe us one’, we make our country stable by upsetting another, we give money to charity through a greed driven raffle.

What is terrifying is that we can bring this doingtherightthinginthewrongway’ness into the church community.
We can’t proclaim the good news without following Jesus’ example. 
John’s gospel make’s it clear to us that what we see Jesus doing, we do. 
That we do Jesus’ will Jesus’ way.

I washed your feet; wash one another’s feet (13:14)
I have loved you; you love one another (13:34, 15:12)
You’ve seen me work; you’ll do my work (14:12)
I’ve been with you; the Spirit will be with you (14:16-17)
I live; you also will live (14:19)
You are in me; I am in you (14:20)
I was hated; you will be hated (15:18-25)
I haven’t finished what I have to say; the Spirit will tell you (16:12-15)

Then in John 17 (the prayer) Jesus continues with this ‘me-them’ talk.
‘We are one; may they be one’,
‘You sent me; I send them’

Following Jesus and doing Jesus’ will are inseparable.  Jesus meant for us to continue His work of extending His kingdom by following His example of how to do it.  Peter did not start a whole new thing at Pentecost, he did not introduce people to a new God no, He was continuing the work of Jesus, he used Joel as his sermon text.  Jesus brought in the age of Grace, a new age, but still a continuing part of God’s plan that’s been going from before time.  

We may be making disciples of a new generation but this is a continuing work of Jesus and must be done the way Jesus reveled He wanted to extend His kingdom. 

We may think we’re reasonably accomplished at running businesses, our families, and sports clubs and we may think we’re pretty good at getting things done.  We may think that we can model our church’s expansion off a McDonald’s successful advertising campaign. But to do the Great Commission without considering the way of Jesus is not inappropriate. It’s wrong. 
We cannot live for Jesus without living like Jesus. 
We cannot do the will of Jesus without living the way of Jesus.

To be continued… 

I plan to continue this blog by writing a bit about the way Jesus could have but didn’t and the way He did do the will of God.

Standing on Grace

 

POEM for EASTER SUNDAY (the future’s not what it used to be)

Easter Sunday 

Here’s a wee poem written in the celebration of the Resurrection!  Praise God, Sing It Loud. Christ Has Risen From The Grave.

The future’s not what it used to be

The future’s not what it used to be
Not what it used to be anymore
You’ve given us a sure hope
I can almost smell the promised shore

The curtain’s torn
Our shame’s been worn
The lost can come running home
The price is paid
He’s rose to say
I’ve saved you from sin, but not Rome

For we still live in this world
Be strangers in this land
But through faith now we can fully know
Our redemption’s fully planned

Sing and shout and dance for joy
Towards earths shores come salvation’s fleet
“All aboard all aboard” free but not cheep
Is the story out on the street

Christ has risen
Grace is given
The dead to life have been raised
Real life can be ours
In giving Him our hours
May the name of Yahweh be praised

For new life is now flooding our veins
Like streams after the snow of winter
Your grace we couldn’t survive without
Praise Christ. We’d be lost without Easter.

 

Standing on Grace

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