Leaving Ripples

It's been a pretty busy week for me, currently I'm sitting in the wharekai of Waitetoko Marae, on the shores of lake Taupo. Lunch is just about to begin, and the rustle of tired students gets louder as they scrape the seats out from under the table and plonk themselves down for a feed.

We've been learning about the treaty of Waitangi, and how that can apply to events nowadays. It's amazing how something that happened almost 180 years ago has created a ripple that has affected the lives of countless people and continues to do so today.

It reminded me of the impact Jesus had, and still has today. The fact that he chose death on a cross, the most horrible death a man could face, in order to save every person, is completely ludicrous and astounding. That act began a revolution that continues to this day, and I am encouraged and inspired to begin trying to leave ripples in people's lives that can have positive long lasting effects.

Are You Sure About That?

Whenever I see those Facebook links about a ‘satisfying’ video or set of pictures, usually about neatly arranged things and referencing OCD type behaviour, I look at those posts and think that there’s nothing unusual about that. I like order, neatness and things that are done correctly. I’m not a neat-freak nor do I have white gloves but organisation is my friend. It’s the same with board games and driving, there are rules and they are there for a reason!

Then we have the Bible. The thing with the Bible, as an ordered sort of person, is what it says and what it doesn’t say and then there’s what people make it say. This usually happens through second hand Christianity, learned behaviour and low Biblical literacy. Another way to put it is that the Christian culture many of us find ourselves in has been set by others with little self-scrutiny of that for accuracy, depth or soundness.

I’m particularly talking about Biblical conundrums. Not version differences and not even interpretation, just stuff that is or isn’t actually written, like; ‘Mary on a Donkey at Christmas and three wise men.’ Spoiler: No donkey, not even December and the number of wise men isn’t given. When we live our lives for Jesus, following the Word of God is a massive part of that. Why does accuracy matter? Because a degree off at the start leads to bigger errors down the road.

Here’s some examples:

Inviting Jesus into our heart: This is salvation from Romans 10:9: "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Nowhere does the Bible talk about Jesus being in anyone.

Jesus sweating blood: Christ's anguish was no doubt strong and difficult in the Garden of Gethsemane but the Bible says his sweat drops were like blood, not blood itself. Luke 22:44. There are even commentaries that describe the medical condition, except it doesn’t say that.

Jesus is here with us: It is the Holy Spirit who is with us. While the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are intrinsically linked they are also individual and have clear roles. Jesus is currently at the right hand of the Father in heaven waiting to return and is interceding for us until then and drawing people to himself. Acts 1:9 ‘he was taken up before their eyes…’ Acts 7:55 ‘…and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.'

There heaps more like the blessing of food, (and us to your service…?) asking the Spirit to come and be where He already is and to fill us when we already have Him! This isn’t about being picky, it’s about being faithful to what IS not accepting of what isn’t just because people pray that way or have always spoken that way.
If something sounds odd, that could well be the Holy Spirit saying to you; ‘Are you sure about that?’

Maybe you have some conundrums of your own…


Post Conference

I have just come home from Thrive Youth & Children’s Ministry Conference. The weekend before that we had our Southern Youth Councils. I am feeling very full. My heart and mind are brimming with ideas and inspiration. I am sitting in the wake of significant encounters with God and feeling the impression of many beautiful moments spent in conversation with great people. It’s the post-conference high.

Over the years I’ve been to lots of conferences and camps, and I know that in the days and weeks that follow, the feelings I have about what I have just experienced will fade. I will stop quoting the speakers on social media, I will stop talking about it and driving everyone around me mad with random snippets and photos and crazy inside jokes that make no sense to anyone who wasn’t actually there at the time. But what will remain, hopefully, is the impact that all of it had on me, on my life and journey with God, and on my ministry and work.

There are some ways I have learned to help ensure that I don’t lose the momentum that’s been started, so that when I come down from that “conference-high” I continue on the journey once I am back home and back into work and no longer in the atmosphere of the weekend that was. Here are some things that can help to retain the good things picked up during a powerful God-encounter:

1. Share What You Learned.
Post your photos and memories on social media.
When people ask how the weekend was, don’t just say “good”, actually tell them something that happened, or show them photos. They may not have wanted a full answer but you need to share what God is doing, so just tell them anyway!
Ask your leaders if you can share at church or youth group.
Write Something. Draw something. Create something that expresses the themes or ideas that impacted you most.
It doesn’t really matter where or how you share. The point is actually answering the question about what went down at the conference helps you to process your thoughts and emotions about it. By putting into words a summary of the weekend, you actually get it clear in your own head what impacted you.

2. Download The Songs.
You can’t necessarily re-create the atmosphere of camp but you can re-listen to the music that moved you. Download them to your device and bring them into your own prayer time at home.

3. Keep In Touch With The People You Connected With.
You know that group of people you stayed up half the night laughing with? Send them a Facebook friend request and leave it up to them to accept or not. Chances are they’re sitting there wondering whether to send you one, or they’ve forgotten your last name and don’t know how to get in touch with you. It won’t be the same as camp, but it’ll be the continuation of a friendship journey that started with a God-moment.
Send a message to the speaker that impacted you and tell them what you got out of their message. Not only will it help them to know what they said that was helpful, it’ll give you an opportunity to explore what it was that moved you, and put it into words.

4. Action Your Goals And Decisions.
Don’t doubt the moment that you had just because you’re no longer in the moment. If in the moment you knew your heart that you should get involved in street ministry, or your corps band, or whatever – then go and talk to a leader about that when you get back home and find out what you need to do to make that happen.

5. Start a Bible-In-A-Year Reading Plan.
This might seem like it has nothing to do with the moment you had – but the best way to keep momentum is to nurture the relationship with the One who was at the centre of it all. And the best way to do that is to develop a habit of praying and reading the Word. So hear me out: if you start the bible-in-a-year plan when you get home from camp, then by the time that same camp rolls around again next year you will have read the entire bible in between times – and I guarantee you will be able to look back and see your own growth over that time! Try it and see!

Seize the Day

Luke 9:62 (MSG) - Jesus said, “No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.”

This is a verse that has played on my mind and stalked me the last couple weeks. To be honest procrastination it what I do well! So I'm now trying to be seizing every opportunity God presents me with.

Be prepared to seize every and all opportunities that are presented to you over this season.

It's challenging to think. Never again will be in such a place for such a time as this.

Go change the world!

Scripture of the Week

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."