So who are you fighting against?

That person, that company, that situation about which you are completely convinced they are in the wrong. Indeed, their words and actions bring you nothing but harm, heart-ache and sleepless nights. They are against you and they are out to get you.

Or perhaps not.

Gamaliel was a Pharisee, mentioned in Acts 5, who puts Peter and the apostles out of the Council in Jerusalem and turning to the other religious leaders says, ‘…if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them—in that case you may even be found fighting against God!’

Of course your battle, your opponent may well be of human origin, but it might also be God who, knowing you and loving you to the perfect degree, chooses this battle to be the means of great maturing, great fruit, great blessing.

 


It’s the odd Gospel, John…

…the one which doesn’t follow the same rules as the others. John doesn’t just tell us the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, but at regular points he stands back and takes the long view – bringing his readers face to face with challenging questions.

As we start our journey through this great book we will begin at chapter 3 and an account of a conversation, (John records many conversations in his book). A conversation about what it is to have faith and be a believer – and the answers Jesus give may well surprise us.

And of course we cannot talk about faith in Jesus without considering his death, so even at the start, week one, the shadow of the cross will affect and dominate what we are reading.

Brace yourselves, its going to get interesting.

 


Shepard Fairey . . .

. . . is an American skateboarder and street artist who is most well known for two logos which became cultural phenomena. One is his ‘OBEY’ clothing brand which, with a single word, has made him a multi-millionaire. The other is his poster for the 2005 US Presidential campaign, bearing a stylised image of Barak Obama and the single word HOPE.

Obey

Hope

I was struck by the apparent contradiction of these two four-letter words and certainly by their related images as the word OBEY is presented as negative, foreboding. But can we rescue it?

This morning we will see how the theme of obedience runs clean through the whole of scripture and far from being limiting, enslaving, is freeing and liberating and the means to discover true life, life in all its fullness, when applied to obedience to God.

 


What if our thinking . . .

. . . and listening and deciding was all undertaken in the context of praise and worship of our God?

What if the decisions we make are not based on the limitations of our resources, but of the provision and generosity of God?

What if our discussions and listening were not about getting our point across, but about discerning what God wanted for his church?

What if the business we did was balanced by testimonies of God’s working?

What if we welcomed new people with love, invitation and prayer?

And what if all of this was undertaken in a culture of faith, community, trust and unity?

Well, that would mean that we would be fulfilling what we want to see each time we gather at our church meetings. There’s one this week, Thursday 8pm at the church. So, what if you were a part of this?

 


One of my nephews recently posted a video…

… on his Facebook page. It was of him and his two brothers boarding a flight to Portugal. The thing is, that it ends with him spinning round to film the final passenger boarding the plane and asking them, ‘How are you doing Bob ?’ It was Bob Geldof. I guess that when Bob Geldof’s obituary is written, reference will inevitably be made to his arresting appeal for money at the 1985 Live Aid event at Wembley Stadium.

This morning we are also talking money, (but probably not as it happened at Live Aid.) In week two of our short series ‘The Disciplined Disciple’ we are looking at Giving. Christianity has very clear expectations when it comes to giving and it also identifies the inner struggle we have as we wrestle over letting go. Although this morning may not be an entirely easy ride for us, the goal is that we find a place of generosity and liberty which was always far better than the limited life of self-interest.