Have you ever felt the urge to rearrange your bedroom, your wardrobe, your lounge room? Maybe it coincides with a new resolve to improve your life. Perhaps it's the need to convince ourselves that we have really changed. But the truth is, we can rearrange our lives as often as we like and still remain in a comfort zone where there is little change or progress in our lives. Comfort zones are simply a form of protection we erect in our lives to say we are willing to be stretched so far, but no further. We gravitate to those comfort zones because life is safe, predictable and understandable in that space. But as Peter discovered, sometimes our comfort zones become the very obstacle that the Spirit needs to remove to use us more fully and to help us see more clearly what God is doing in the world. The Spirit of God works through surprising acts to rattle, shake and stretch us beyond our comfort zones; extending boundaries, breaking conventions, changing expectations, shaking certainties and enlarging our vision to see the fullness of his kingdom plan break into this world...whether we are comfortable with it or not!
#5 in series: Getting our 'Acts' together
Every teacher has them! Little tricks to get the kids looking and listening. Teacher: 1,2,3, Look at me Students: 1,2 Look at you. The clapping game! Songs (Frere Jacques tune) "Are you listening? Are you listening? Everyone! Everyone! If you are listening, if you are listening, look at me, look at me." Hands Up, Stick em up, eyes on me. Teachers know that they students ability to follow instructions and grow in their learning first begins with attentive listening. It's no different for Christians. Obedience doesn't mean just following a command of somebody else, or doing what you're told to do, obedience is an act of love that listens deeply, responds faithfully, and acts willingly. Faithful listening precedes obedient acts and when we are willing to say 'yes' to God, we might just be take on a Spirit-led adventure where we see the power and timing of God on display in amazing ways.
#4 in series "Getting our 'Acts' Together"
You walk into a room & no one seems to notice. You work on a group project but no one asks for your input. Coffee with friends is all about them…never you. It’s like you have a cloak of invisibility that leaves you unnoticed, passed over, ignored by those around you…a painful reality when the silence speaks volumes. After Pentecost, the Spirit enabled the apostles to see other people deeply & to meet needs they didn’t even know they had. The very first act of the Church after the Spirit poured out was to heal and restore to the community someone who had been overlooked and passed by for years. To meet the need for restoration at the deepest possible level and grant new life in Christ is a work of the Spirit that fulfils the promise of Jesus: “As the Father sent me so I send you. The Spirit lives in you to make you a healing presence pointing people to restoration in Christ. The Spirit works through you to transform lives & relationships in ways you never imagined. So today we experience and are called to healing acts.
#3 in series: 'Getting your "Acts" Together'
Television producers are on the hunt for it. Recruiters and talent scouts endeavour to unearth it. Entrepreneurial leaders build it in to their business or product. Marketers just love it. And most of us secretly wish we had it. The X-factor.
The mastery of those with the X-factor leaves us in awe. They see things the rest of us don't see, they do things that defy explanation. The X-factor transforms something from run of the mill, average or ordinary into something extraordinary We live in a culture that revels in the special, and the extraordinary. We are drawn to the new and unusual like moths to a flame. But that relegates the lives we live each day to something that is ordinary, boring, bland and definitely lacking the X-factor. But today we see how it is the ordinariness of every day life that the Spirit is at work in ordinary people and ordinary acts and daily faithfulness to add to the Kingdom, the lives of those who are being saved. It may not be a life that has the X-factor, but it will be a life that is filled with the Spirit, and with a power that daily renews, restores, revitalises and recreates your life through ordinary acts.
#2 in series: "Getting our "Acts" Together
The moon landing was faked. Area 51 hides proof of extra-terrestrial life. Harold Holt was kidnapped. JFK was killed by multiple gunmen. Russia determined the winner of the 2016 US election. SARs-CoVid-2 came from eating bats. Conspiracy theories seem to find fertile ground in times of uncertainty, crisis and social upheaval. Conspiracies thrive when people feel vulnerable, powerless and a need to gain a sense of control over their lives. Conspiracies always blame, accuse, deflect responsibility & always cause hurt.
But the word "conspire" means to "breathe with" or "breathe together." Like a child nestled against its mother.
Today…Pentecost…the pouring out of the Holy Spirit…is the day when God breathes into us so that we breathe with him.
It’s the greatest conspiracy ever in the truest sense of the word. God calls us to be co-conspirators with him, sharing one breath, one life, one love as we breathe new life, new hope, and new creation into this chaotic world.
God calls us to be co-conspirators with him, so that the world can breathe freely, deeply and fully of the love and life found only in Jesus Christ. God calls us to be co-conspirators with him, in powerful acts so that all people can hear the “mighty acts of God” and be drawn into his presence forever.
#1 in series: Getting our "Acts" Together
"Free Religion Template...download here." Jesus Crown Thorns. Islamic Mosque Sunset. Monk Budhism Meditation. Take your pick...attractive templates, perfect for every presentation. A template gives you a preset mold, form, document that you can use all over again, to provide design consistency, a set overall look and feel. You just have to choose which template you want to use. So often when it comes to Church and faith, we take a cookie-cutter approach, operate in a pre-determined way to make all people look and feel the same. Just tick the boxes, add some of the components like going to church, saying grace occasionally, putting a couple of dollars on the offering plate and you will have the look, feel and benefit of being a Christian. Perhaps it is this template concept that has led to 68% of Christians here in Australia not seeing faith as important in daily life. Jesus didn't come so we could tick a couple of boxes and feel good about ourselves. Today he throws the template out the window to bring a radical change that gives an eternal relationship and life beyond religion.
#6 and final in series: Life Pulse
Have you ever watched the spin cycle on the front loader of a washing machine? It starts off slow, builds in speed and intensity as the clothes are forced to the edge of the drum, ultimately all wrung out. That's anxiety in a nutshell…or guilt…or shame. It starts with a simple thought that goes round and round, spinning faster and faster, leaving you in a tight, on edge, wrung out knot! Sometimes the weight of that anxiety is so much, the whole machine of your body begins to shake, shudder and makes noise because it is so off kilter. Whatever spin cycle you are in right now – anxiety about the state of your world/lives, shame that you aren’t who you are supposed to be according to some exacting standard, guilt that in this instance or that circumstance you messed up, let your guard down or let someone else down - Jesus wants you to know that he is not ashamed of you, disappointed in you or out to make an example of you. He knows you completely and loves you unceasingly, assuring you of his grace that is larger than your need and more abundant that all your fears. Come to Jesus and receive that life and experience that life today…a life beyond anxiety, guilt and shame.
#5 in series: Life Pulse
Aristotle once said, "Man is by nature a political animal.' Wherever there is an opinion, there are politics. Whenever two people get together there are politics. Wherever there is an agenda, there are politics. Wherever there is power, there is politics. It crosses into every sector of life - Government (Left/Right. Liberal/Labour/Green/Independent, Federal/State), the Church (Liberal/Conservative), Workplaces (Management/Workers), Communities (North Shore/Inner City/West). Sports clubs. Families. Life, as the world presents, is highly political and full of power plays where our attitudes and beliefs are closely tied up with our most basic human needs - safety, belonging, identity, self-esteem and purpose, and where keeping up appearances is sometimes seen to be more important than substance. Today Jesus reveals a life beyond politics that is full of substance and purpose, gives security and identity and creates belonging and worth and gives power for everday living.
#4 in series: Life Pulse
It's been said that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' That sounds a lot like addiction doesn't it - repeatedly doing something that self-reinforces patterns of behaviour, despite harmful consequences. We become addicted to ourselves and our wants or our prized purposes. We’re slaves to the things that bother us and break our heart. We’re in bondage to keeping our kids happy, or the device, or our work, our pride, our sense of entitlement or our feeling of being a victim. Addiction can happen to anyone…anytime. Deep down, all of us desire to live. We crave freedom to be truly alive, truly loved, truly accepted, truly secure and truly known. Jesus knows that desire for life and freedom; he also knows how easy it is to give our life over to things that steal, kill and destroy the very life we seek. But in Christ we are given a freedom and fullness of life beyond addiction that releases his best in us and releases us for his purposes in this world. He comes to bring the broken, stolen and dead parts of us back to life and restore in us a fullness of life that nothing on earth can match, and which nothing can take away. Today Jesus offers us true freedom and fullness of life beyond addiction.
#3 in series: Life Pulse