Thursday, 25 June 2015

Facing your Giants

The slender, beardless boy kneels by the brook . Mud moistens his knee. Bubbling water cools his hand. He is searching for rocks. Stones. Smooth stones. The kind that stack neatly in a shepherd’s pouch, rest flush against a shepherd’s sling. Flat rocks that balance heavy on the palm and missile with comet-crashing force into the head of a lion, a bear, or, in this case, a giant. Goliath towers above them all: nine feet, nine inches tall in his stocking feet, wearing 125 pounds of armor, and snarling like the main contender at a World Wide Wrestling Federation championship night . He wears a size 20 collar, a 10 ½  hat, and a 56-inch belt. His biceps burst, thigh muscles ripple, and boasts belch through the canyon. “This day I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other” (1 Samuel 17:10). Give me your best shot.

What odds did David have against his giant? Better odds perhaps than you give yourself against yours. Your Goliath doesn’t carry sword or shield; he brandishes blades that only you can see.

But what am I telling you? You know Goliath. You recognize his walk and wince at his talk. You’ve seen your Godzilla. The question is, is he all you see? You know his voice – but is it all you hear? David saw and heard more. David’s first discussion, although it was about Goliath, was on the Lord. “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he defy the armies of the living God?” (1Samuel 17:26) David shows up discussing God. The soldiers mentioned nothing about him, the brothers never spoke his name, but David takes one step onto the stage and raises the subject of the living God. He does the same with King Saul: no chitchat about the battle or questions about the odds. Just a God-birthed announcement: “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37). No one else discusses God. David discusses no one else but God. A subplot appears in the story. More than “David versus Goliath,” this is “Godfocus versus giant –focus.” David sees what others don’t and refuses to see what other do. All eyes, except David’s, fall on the brutal, hate-breathing hulk. All compasses, except David’s, are set on the polestar of the Philistine. All journals, but David’s, describe day after day in the land of the Neanderthal. The people know his taunts, demands, size, and strut. They have majored in Goliath. David majors in God. He sees the giant, mind you; he just sees God more so. Look carefully at David’s battle cry: “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1Samuel 17:45)
David sees the armies of God. And because he does, “David hurries and runs toward the army to meet the Philistine” (1Samuel 17:48).

David’s brothers cover their eyes, both in fear and embarrassment.   Saul sighs as the young Hebrew races to certain death. Goliath throws back his head in laughter, just enough to shift his helmet and expose a square inch of forehead flesh. David spots the target and seizes the moment. The sound of the swirling sling is the only sound in the valley. Sshhhww. Sshhhww. Sshhhww. The stone torpedoes into the skull; Goliath’s eyes cross and legs buckle. He crumples to the ground and dies. David runs over and yanks Goliath’s sword form its sheath, shish-kebabs the Philistine, and cuts off his head. You might say that David knew how to get a head of his giant. When was the last time you did the same? How long since you ran toward your challenge? We tend to retreat Try a different tack. Rush your giant with a God-saturated soul. Amplify God and minimize Goliath. STOP TELLING YOUR GOD HOW BIG YOUR GIANT IS AND START TELLING YOU GIANT HOW BIG YOUR GOD IS! Download some of heaven’s un-squashable resolve, Giants you’re going down. How long since you loaded your sling and took a swing at your giant? One might read David’s story and wonder what God saw in him. The fellow fell as often as he stood, stumbled as often as he conquered. He stared down Goliath, yet ogled at Bathsheba; defied God mockers in the valley, yet joined them in the wilderness. An Eagle Scout one day. Chumming with the Mafia the next. He could lead armies but couldn’t manage a family. Raging David. Weeping David. Bloodthirsty. God-hungry. Eight wives. One God. Acts 13:22 reminds us that God said that “David was a man after God’s own heart.” A man after God’s own heart? That God saw him as such gives hope to us all. David’s life has little to offer the unstained saint. Straight-A souls find David’s story disappointing. The rest of us find it reassuring. We ride the same roller coaster. We alternate between swan dives and belly flops, souffl├ęs and burnt toast. In David’s good moments, no one was better. In his bad moments, could one be worse? The heart God loved was a checkered one. We need David’s story. Giants lurk in our neighborhoods. Rejection. Failure. Revenge. Remorse. Giants . . . We must face them. Yet we need not face them alone. Focus first, and most, on God. The times David did, giants fell. The days he didn’t, David did.

David made only two observations about Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. One statement to Saul about Goliath (v.36). And one to Goliath’s face: “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (v.26). That is it. Two Goliath-related comments (and tacky ones at that) and no questions. No inquiries about Goliath’s skill, age, social standing, or IQ. David asks nothing about the weight of the sword of the size of the spear. It is time that we stop telling God how big our giants are and start telling our giants how big our God is. But he gives much thought to God. As we read David’s words again, we can count nine references to the Lord. God-thoughts outnumber Goliath-thoughts nine to two. How does this ratio compare with yours? Do you ponder God’s grace four times as much as you ponder your guilt? Is your list of blessings four times as long as your list of complaints? Is your mental file of hope four times as thick as your mental file of dread? Are you four times as likely to describe the strength of God as you are the demands of your day?

The whole matter may be summed up with the following couplet: Focus on giants – you stumble. Focus on God – your giants tumble. Which do you want to tumble . . . You . . . Or, your giants? Lift your eyes, giant slayer. The God who made a miracle out of David stands ready to make one out of you.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Whatever it takes....

Whatever it Takes

So.. how does it look for you when you come to church.  What do you think when you arrive.  I recently had a conversation with someone on my arrival that made me start to think.  The question was simple… where are the young people and why don’t they bring their friends.  My friend then carried on to talk about all of the things we could do in the church building and community if we had a larger congregation.   I walked away from the conversation wondering… does she really want the church to grow?

Church growth is not about buildings, plans, money or even our dreams.  It is about the lost being found.. becoming disciples of Jesus and bearing fruit in their lives.

The growth of any church is determined by the attitudes of the people who attend the church and those who lead it. If we have attitudes of pride, apathy, laziness, negativity or a critical attitude we will never be all that God wants us to be.  

The growth of the church will happen when we “the people of God” step out of our comfortable pews and live the life God has called us to.

I think that’s a great statement “the life God has called us to” I would be willing to wager that as soon as some of you heard that statement you thought of amazing people. Corrie Ten Boom and amazing woman who shows God in a very human light. Mother Theresa shows the compassionate heart of God.  These are great examples and I am sure there are many more but I am thinking more of those people we see every day.  Those people who you walk away and think... their great!  The people who very subtly show you the heart of God.  They want to show that to you, they desire to but they never really know if they do… they rely on the spirit to talk to you through there actions.  Amazing people of God are easy to read about in the Bible we have so many examples.  But then there are those who we really don’t think much about at all.

In Luke 5 we read about the paralyzed man.  So often we think how amazing his faith was that he just new… if I can get to Jesus he can heal me.  Then and only then will my life be NORMAL, will I be free to live.  There is no doubt in my mind that this guy had to work fairly hard to find some friends to take him.  He was praralyzed that doesn’t look like it does today.  He did have some great wheelchair that he could be pushed there in or even better use the little joystick on the side to get himself there.  He was asking friends to pick him up and carry him.  In the heat of the middle east, a fair distance. This is a big ask, but he knew… this is my chance I can’t not try.  If he hadn’t tried he would probably always wonder… what if? 

He was fortunate he had 4 friends who were willing to help him.  He needed 4, one to carry each side of the blanket he was sitting or lying on.  After travelling a while to the house that they needed to get to, the one they knew Jesus was at… there was no room, they couldn’t get in.  Imagine the feeling, disappointment, frustration, a real loss of hope.

I believe this is where his friends really step up and show us what there made of. These friends agreed to do the basic expectation they were willing to put themselves out and carry their friend to see Jesus.  But then they show us more.  The show us how they were willing to go that extra step further.  They were willing to be the ones that went the extra mile.  I like to imagine that the friends names were CARE, DREAM, EXPECT and RISK.  

Imagine the scene… four men show up carrying another man on a blanket, there are hoards of people.  The house that Jesus is in is full no one can get in.  They lost their opportunity to help their friend, they were late.  They couldn’t carry him fast enough and now he wouldn’t have the chance to ask Jesus to help him.  I imagine there feeling of disappointment was evident.  I even imagine that it was fairly obvious the friend they were carrying.  Of course, he was just thankful they had been willing to try.  He knew he never would’ve gotten this close without them.  He knew what he had asked of them was a lot and he was glad they had been willing to try but he also knew that not making it on time wasn’t there fault.

Thankfully one of his friends, CARE noticed the disappointment and remembered what he had always been taught CARE MORE THAN OTHERS THINK IS WISE.  He shared his concern for their friend with the other three and DREAM thought to himself…. Can you imagine if we could get him in that building… he had been taught to DREAM MORE THAN OTHERS THIS IN PRACTICAL.  The third of the friends was taught to EXPECT I imagine his parents new that teaching someone faith also meant to teach them to EXPECT, HE HAD BEEN TAUGHT TO EXPECT MORE THAN IS POSSIBLE THE REAL LOOK OF FAITH, FAITH FINDS A WAY.  But all three of these had great hopes and thoughts but with just them there was still something missing, they were still outside the house and their friend STILL wasn’t able to ask Jesus to heal him.   The reality is he has probably been this way all of his life, he would carry on living, it wasn’t the best life but at least he was alive. 

The fourth friend was the one who everyone mother had told them about… just because he thinks its cool doesn’t mean you have to do it.  He was the one that always went a little further than the other boys, he always needed to push the boundaries a little.  His name was RISK and HE HAD BEEN TAUGHT TO RISK MORE THAN OTHERS THINK IS SAFE.   He was characterized as the one who was willing to try the difficult thing… the unorthodox, the costly.  I imagine all 4 of them, that would be the paralyzed man and the three friends were of two minds they were probably hoping he would think of something to help them and they were probably equally praying he wouldn’t…. his plans were always a little riskier than they were comfortable with… what would there mothers think… 


Then there dreams and fears were realized all at once… he turned to them and said… ok, team… I’ve got a plan.  He went about telling them the plan… it was fairly reasonable.  I mean really, who in the crowd outside wouldn’t move to let them carry their friend through… it’s not like they could get in the house, there were to many people inside that was just not an option… but their ever faithful friend Risk had seen the staircase!!  That would get them pretty close to the roof… once they got to the top of the stairs they could surely find a plan to get onto the roof, they just needed to get to the top and see what their options were.

It wasn’t an easy process it did actually take them at least an hour to get through the crowd and to the top of the stairs.  At this point Dream shared what he and Risk had been talking about…. We will just remove some of the roof and lower him down.  Expect thought this was a great plan as he knew in his heart… it’s all worth it Jesus will heal him and we will all be amazed.  They were all so thankful to have expect and his strong belief there showing them what to expect of Jesus… it probably helped with the process knowing that if it worked, they wouldn’t have to carry him home. It was a long way from where they were this morning.

It was amazing to watch as they looked down the roof and heard Jesus acknowledge their friend… they knew they had achieved their goal.  He would be healed… wait… what did he just say his sins are forgivien… what does that have to do with his ability to walk… how will that help him get a job and feed his family.  How will that help him restore his families honor as he sat for so many years at the gates of the city begging.  Before any of them can even answer they realize Jesus is answering their very questions.. or atleast someones.  It seems like the religious leaders aren’t worried about their friend at all they seem to be more worried about what right Jesus has to fogive their sins…. Don’t they know who he is… don’t they understand when he arrived in the house… God entered… the very God they said they worshiped…. He was here with them, there was never any question in the friends minds of his ability to forgive his sins. 

It seems again Jesus has to explain the obvious to those that are supposed to be able to teach the masses..  WHICH IS EASIER TO SAY… YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN OR STAND UP AND WALK.

It was their faith that Jesus reacted to… Luke 5:20 seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, young man, your sins are forgivien.

There is a relationship between forgiveness and healing (in Acts the cripple healed at the temple is described by the word which means both healed and saved.)

Jesus is the sinners best friend… he just needs them to get to the table to understand, this is where God wants to use us… we all need to be part of the group brining them to the table…. We all at times need to be one of the friends DREAM, EXPECT, CARE AND RISK.  Who will you bring to the table?  Who do you dare to dream for, expect for care for and even risk for?

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Training in Zaventem

Last week, I (Eileen's) was in Zaventem, Belgium. I had the opportunity to be there helping as part of the team running a support matters conference. 

This is one of those training conferences that I absolutely love! The content of the course is great, it is designed to continually draw our hearts and minds back to God, how he views us and others. It is always a privilege to watch people walk through this process, the understanding of how God prepares for them even the smallest of their needs. 

This picture is one of the teaching sessions. 

Thank you to each of you who make it possible for me to be part of these events. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

and now Belgium....

And now Belgium....

I (Eileen) am away from home this week in Belgium.  I am in the town/village of Zaventem.  This is actually the place where Aaron and I lived for our first year as a married couple.... hmmm... it was a long time ago. 

This is one of those weird places for me.  I love it and it holds so many wonderful memories, both good and bad.  It is a place i feel i know yet realise there is so much i don't know about it.  A place where i see people that hold a special spot in my heart, where emotions are mixed  of good and bad at times but mostly of wishing I had more time to talk with them, find out how they are, what they are doing and how God is working in them and through them. 

It is probably good that i don't have the opportunity to visit more often otherwise i may find myself trying to talk Aaron into moving back.

The Centre in Belgium has been part of the ministry we work with for many years... even before i was born!!!  While at the centre I found a pic of the building from the 1970's 

and then a picture from this year... 

The pictures don't look extremely different but in reality the building has changed drastically.  Originally this base was purchased and used as a hub for various services.  OM summer and joining conferences at one point were organised primarily from this team. There was a garage that maintained a large fleet of vehicles that traveled all over the world.  Teams staying within Europe or heading to Asia, Middles East, Near East and such were sent out from this base.  An amazing heritage for a building to have.  As times have changed and flights are how we all travel the cost of keeping a van that is 25, 30 or even 40 years old is even higher than purchasing a used vehicle that is only 10 years old the needs of the building have had to change also. The garage that served so many for so many years now houses the offices for the Belgium ministry team as well as those who oversee the conference centre.  The rooms have been refurbished to meet new needs, more bedrooms have been added, a large dinning room and so on all mean that the conference facility is again a way that this building and its team reaches out to help support the larger OM world through serving the needs of the many. 

The town the centre is based in is a wonderful mixture of town and village.  It has gotten larger since we lived here. There are more shops and businesses the schools have expanded and new houses have been built but it manages to maintain a friendly environment that shows the heart of the community.  I have really enjoyed walking around the town with others and on my own since i arrived on Monday and i look forward to more time to see the town, the changes it has made and the people. 

I wish I could walk with each of you as I am here and show you around the town.  Share the stories of our friends when we lived here and the fun we had.  The things God taught us that are life lessons we will never forget and those things that we seem to have to keep learning as we just can't seem to master.   

In short.... I wish each of you was here to share this time with me. 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Little Venice in London

Always a great way to end an evening.... Walking along the canal in Little Venice

Birthday Celebrations in London!

This week during my (Eileen) dad's visit to London we also celebrated his birthday... In wanting to find fun and special ways to celebrate such a wonderful man we did a little sightseeing and a fabulous restaurant. 

Here are some pics of the Emirates Air cable car... 

After the cable car we headed over to the Shard for a birthday meal. 

Ireland trip (Day 4)

Well, this is our last day in Ireland. What a wonderful time we have had. 

Today we took the drive from Galway to Dublin, stopping at a town called Athlone along the way. The drive was Beautiful (as all the drives have been)! 

Before leaving Galway we took a short tour and had a stop at the Salthill beach

Athlone hosts a castle a beautiful river and the oldest pub in Ireland. 

So... It seems that is the end of our Ireland tour! What a treat it has been. Living away from my (Eieen) family I am fully aware and accepting of the fact that I miss out on important family events, this is not something I enjoy or find easy but a fact i have come to terms with. In saying that, being able to visit Ireland with my dad (a place he has always talked about going) and being able to do this over his birthday week has been such a blessing. Memories a will keep forever! 

Well, it is fall already... time keeps sneaking past us faster than we can keep up with it. The kids are back in school and loving it! A...