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Let Jesus be the structure.

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I had a dream the other night that has been sitting on me for a number of days and I’m happy to say that dreams can be important messages to our lives.

In this dream I could see a man stood next to a single escalator that went down into a large complex. The entrance was very well protected by thick concrete walls and barbed wire wrapped around the whole building. There was no way in other than through the permission of the man guarding and the escalator that led to an unknown space. Whilst dreaming I explored the whole structure from the roof, the rear and I even tried to dig a tunnel underneath that led to more concrete and barbed wire.images

I could tell that the guard was extremely proud of the structure and the way in which visitors were forced to enter. Whilst trying to understand what I was seeing, Ollie my 7yr old son approached the guard. The man told him “The only way into this building was to take the escalator, there is no other way!” Ollie simply looked the man in eyes and confidently said “OK, I will just have to build my own Church.” He then just turned and walk away.

I have been praying about this dream and I believe I have 2 points that I would like to make that could give a possible interpretation or insight to my sleeping imagination.

First of all let me give some interpretation to the imagery in my dream.

Large Complex – This represents the Church and our perception of God’s Kingdom.
The Guard – People in responsibility / leaders.
Escalator & Barbed wire – Our restrictions, guidance and rules.
Ollie – Future generation.

Before I go on, I have to mention that this message is not talking about any particular Church, movement or people.

First Point

I believe we as Christians and leaders have to walk in tension holding the present in one hand and the future in the other. The decisions we make now affect both! In the 70’s the Church was very much focused on Jesus coming back soon – “the end of the World is at hand and Heaven is our home”. This is all true, however it stopped us focusing on our present. We lost that “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.” We stopped building for the future because to the Church then, there was no future.

Our evangelism was aggressive “Turn or burn” because we thought we had to hurry people into heaven without teaching Grace and offering long term relationship to our communities.

So when I saw Ollie walk away from the Church, I saw him walk away from the structure. He didn’t want to access the Kingdom through the activities and rules of the Church of the day. So this has led to a question in my mind – What are we building that will encourage generations ahead of us to thrive?

I believe that the Church is focusing on the now. Focusing on “Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.” This is so encouraging! It means when our future generations come they will inherit revival and a culture of grace. So lets build for the future!

Wouldn’t it be awesome if our grandchildren were born into cities without cancer? Wouldn’t it be amazing if a 100 years from now our grandchildren were born into a world where the Church had such an influence that they were being asked run the social welfare of the country?

Ollie and your children are our future Kingdom builders. So when they have an idea, listen. When they say do church this way – listen! I don’t think we should pass on the responsibility of Church when we feel we’ve done enough. I think we need to be doing it side by side now!

We don’t want our children say “I will just have to build my own Church”

Second Point

“In the Spirit the angel carried me away to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of the sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Its gates will never be shut by day and there will be no night there. People will bring into it the glory and the honour of the nations.” Apostle John the Revelator.

In the dream “I could tell that the man guarding was extremely proud of the structure and the way in which visitors were forced to enter.” The scripture above clearly is placing the importance on Christ. The structure is Christ! The building is Christ! isn’t it amazing that even the Sun and Moon has no real significance in the scripture because of Christ! Whatever we build must never take our attention from Jesus. Our practices, our programmes must come second to people having access to Jesus.

Jesus said “I am the gate; whoever comes in through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” – Gospel of John 10v9
This scripture puts it clear that Jesus is the gate – He is the structure!

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Thoughts, Broadchurch, Jesus, distraction & peace

th“You are in fact raised together with Christ! Now ponder with persuasion the consequence of your co-inclusion in him. Relocate yourself mentally! Engage your thoughts with the throne room realities where you are co-seated with Christ in the executive authority of God’s right hand. Becoming affectionately acquainted with these thoughts will keep you from being distracted again by the earthly realm. Your union with his death broke the association with that world; see yourselves located in a fortress where your life is hidden with Christ in God!” Colossians 3v1-3 Apostle Paul.

It’s really interesting that our thoughts can betray us by telling us lies that we perceive as truth. It is our thoughts that tell us “that person doesn’t like me.” Or “I haven’t achieved anything in life.” Once these thoughts are allowed to become our truth, they strike at our very core and affect the world around us. The science of CBT (Cognitive behaviour therapy) tells us that a Thought leads to an Emotion that dictates our Behviour.

We have at least 80,000 thoughts a day and it would be impossible to vet each one, however we can notice how we feel and behave. When I feel angry, upset or isolated I will sit and take some time to work out what I have been thinking. I will then assess if those thoughts are true. Once I have evaluated these thoughts I will adjust them to line up with what is correct. Most of the time I will then feel a lot better or at least know what I can do about it.

Scripture gives us some valuable advice in this area: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4v8 Apostle Paul.

Have you ever been around someone who is just one big dark cloud? They seem to lack any kind of peace, always wingeing, always annoyed by someone or something and never takes pleasure in life. You find yourself feeling a sense of relief when you come away from them. I want to tell you now – most of their thoughts are deceiving them, robbing them of any joy, love and ultimately relationship.

It can be very difficult to focus on good things in such a negative world. You only have to turn on the TV to be bombarded with pain, aggression, fear and all out misery. I know people who will record every soap drama and then sit and be taken on an emotional journey of Kack! I was a big fan of the powerful drama “Broadchurch” in which a small town was devastated by a child murder. Everyone was suspect until the last episode when all was finally revealed. I couldn’t stop being moved and affected by each storyline. I would need to watch something lighthearted to calm down.

What relevance is that scripture that started this Blog?

For me as a follower of Jesus I find he give me peace when error distracts me, truth when lies invade me and direction when in need of guidance. Whether you have faith or you’re an all out atheist we can all be united when I say thinking on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable and excellent is good for your health and relationships.

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God is Love

“If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” Biblical scripture.

Many people have made comments like “who or what is God?” Well for me God is three in one. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. However before that statement confuses you completely there is something in the portion of scripture above that grabbed my attention – God is love.

Love is something everyone has experienced and shared. Songwriters, poets and authors have all tried to move us with the topic of love. When we are loved we feel satisfied, peaceful, joyful and it’s as if nothing can get in our way. Love strengthen us. It removes fear!

It is also said that God is Spirit. Read the next scripture with me:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Biblical scripture.

The question that came to my mind next was – Well if God is love, then what is love? As you can see I answered it within the question. However what I really meant to ask was – What is the attributes, the personality of love? Well I think the scripture above has shed some light on this. Love is Patient,  love is kind, love is joy etc…

So I wanted you to know that God’s personality traits is all of the above and more!

I also wanted to show you something else in scripture that involve you.. yes you!

So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them….God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” Biblical scripture.

So many people have said that my eldest son is a spitting image of me. He looks like me, sounds like me and acts like me. He shows signs of my personality traits. I want to tell you now, even if you don’t like it! Your ability to love is a trait that God has formed in you.

Can I show you one more biblical scripture?

We love because God first loved us.” Biblical scripture

God is love and he first loved us. So many people in religions try and strive to win the affection of God – “God first loved us.” That is shouting one thing… STOP STRIVING!  It’s not about religion with its rules. It’s about a person that wants relationship.

To those that are reading this and don’t have an opinion about God. Let me say this – How great would it be to know someone who love you without you having to do anything in return? You don’t have to say the right thing, cook the right dinner, wear the right clothes, follow the right rules. A relationship without having to earn love that is given.

Jesus was and is that person! He loves you because he is love.

 

 

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Have new strength and vitality

” But you are not carnal but spiritual if the Spirit of God finds a home within you. You cannot, indeed, be a Christian at all unless you have something of his Spirit in you. Now if Christ does live within you his presence means that your sinful nature is dead, but your spirit becomes alive because of the righteousness he brings with him. Once the Spirit of him who raised Christ Jesus from the dead lives within you he will, by that same Spirit, bring to your whole being, yes even your mortal bodies, new strength and vitality. For he now lives in you.  Apostle Paul 57 AD.

As Christians we can rightfully focus on our future in Heaven. The scriptures talk about how we are going to be changed in a blink of an eye! We are going to have new bodies and no longer experience life’s struggles, pain and exhaustion. However Paul is saying that we can experience a new strength and vitality now because of Christ living in us.

So Christ’s broken body was taken down from the cross and carried to a tomb to rot and decompose. He was dead – a Roman soldier made sure of this fact with a spear. The crucifixion was a very painful and torturous death. Jesus would have experienced intense pain, hanging there slowly losing the fight to live. His lungs would have finally given way to suffocation. His final words were “It’s finished!”

Q: What was finished?

A: Our punishment of eternal death and suffering. Through Christ we could experience a new life. This however isn’t just a new life in the next world! This is a new life now.

So three days later, the Spirit of God breaths life into Jesus and the tomb can no longer hold him! The scriptures later declare that when we give our lives to Jesus we are given a new life and we mystically go through the same process of being buried with him and taken out of the tombs of our own lives.

What are the stenchy tombs that you live in? What are the struggles and exhaustion you are going through? Well Jesus said it is finished. He can take those burdens now! The Spirit of God can give you a strength and vitality. This isn’t your strength that fades with burnout.  Jesus is the source of constant power, constant life, constant peace.
Right now, I have circumstances that are beginning stretch me negatively. Work is a struggle, my diary is filling up, finances are a burden. So it’s time to practice what I’m preaching! Jesus said that we are to give him our burdens. “How do you do that?” Well, with our relationship with Christ, it is built on faith which is a simple trust that he is in control.

So guess what? – He is in control!

My prayer 

“Jesus, I know that you are very much part of my life. I believe you are the source of strength and vitality. I’m going to choose to give you my burdens and step back. Please can you fill my mind and body with your peace and vitality. Thank you for the promise of new life when we turn to you. You are in control. Amen”

Why don’t you join me now and pray about your burdens and watch what he will do in your life? – Please feel free to contact me with prayer requests or with any answers to prayer.

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Where’s your mind?

” If you are then raised up with Christ, reach out for the highest gifts of Heaven, where Christ reigns in power. Be concerned with the Heavenly things, not with the passing things of earth. For, as far as this world is concerned you are already dead, and your true life is a hidden one in God through Christ. One day Christ, who is your life, will show himself openly, and you will all share in that magnificent revelation” Apostle Paul 62 AD.

We have all been caught up in our own tough circumstances in life that can cause anxiety and stress. Personally I have suffered with panic attacks and other mental health issues over the years and I have found that most of the time things have just worked out fine! We can also think that if we get all worked up then we’re somehow in control of our life.  This only robs us of any peace or joy.

Paul in the scripture above is giving us a gem of advice. Don’t focus on the things around you but fix your attention on Heavenly things.   He’s saying fix your attention on Christ that can have power over your circumstances. Allow your life to be hidden in Him.  Let Christ give you peace when all around you is chaos.

I love the bit “Christ, who is your life.” If Jesus is now my life then I need to give control over to Him. I need to begin to simply trust He will come through for me. What are the “Highest gifts of Heaven?” I believe they are Wisdom and Peace. Both of those gifts are very much attributes of Christ’ nature. It is Christ’ very nature that we have taken on when we let Him into our lives.

Over the past month I have given up Stress. I have given up caring about the circumstances I find myself in and replaced my attention on Jesus having control. I have being believing He is the Source of Peace and Joy. This is beginning to change my life for the better. I don’t take life so seriously any more. I’m no longer in the driving seat, He is! 

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The Cross gives you purpose.

Ephesians 2 v 8-9

“For it is by grace that you are saved, through faith. This does not depend on anything you have achieved, it is the free gift of God; and because it is not earned no man can boast about it. For God has made us what we are created in Christ Jesus to do those good deeds which he has planned for us to do.” – Apostle Paul 62AD

In these scriptures we learn that Gods love is completely free and we can not earn it what-so-ever! So no one can brag about being better than anyone else in this world. Jesus’ death was for everyone – whatever background, religion, race, gender, sexual preference. He looks upon the whole of mankind and says “I love you.”

However not only does he love us – He also has a purpose for us! As you can see from the scripture he has “good deeds which he has planned for us to do” I have heard so many people say “I just don’t know what I’m on this planet for.” Could this be because they are not connected to the author of life, the king of creativity?

Jesus didn’t just die on a cross for our sin to redeem us back to God. He also wants to give us purpose. When you connect with Christ, he begins to inspire you. He puts things in your heart to do. Another favourite scripture of mine is Psalm 37 v 4 “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart”

Wow! All we have to do is enjoy God and he gives us purpose! Hang on a minute, are you telling me that I don’t have to earn it? No No No. Just ENJOY him. Society teaches us that I have to do something to be something. In God’s Society you are already somebody – your his Son or Daughter and Christ’s death on the cross (which is Gods free gift of love) means you can spend eternity with a purpose.

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Become a Kainos person

“For if a man is in Christ  he becomes a new (kainos) person altogether-the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new. All this is God’s doing, for he has reconciled us to himself through Christ; and he has made us agents of the reconciliation” – Apostle Paul. 2 Corinthians 5v17.

Have you ever wondered “if I could have the chance, I would love to live my life all over again” or “Let’s have a fresh start?” Well when we give our lives to Christ and trust him with our future, there is something very mystical that happens! We become” Kainos people” 

There are 2 greek words for the word “New”

1. Neos – New in time, same in nature and same in quality. (human attainment)

2. kainos – New in time, new in nature and superior in quality. (God attained)

When we become a Christian we don’t just have the slate wiped clean or a fresh start trying to be holy. We mystically become united with Jesus Christ and become new in substance, new in nature and a greater quality of person.

Can I prove this?

Apart from the fact that the above  scripture is a historical document – No.

However if you was to ask a Christian how has Jesus changed your life, I can bet they will be able to tell you an amazing story of change in their lives. People say that Christians lives are very strict and regimented but its just not the case. There is a wonderful freedom when Christ is in your life. Freedom from striving, freedom from stress, freedom guilt, freedom from people pleasing. The list can go on.

Become a Kainos person and live a life of freedom.