Discipleship, Godliness, Journey, Leadership, mentoring, Mission, New Year, Spiritual Health, vocation

I get knocked down…

Last night we went out to a friend’s house who played something of a nostalgic playlist. One song that came on was Chuwumba’s “Tubthumping” with the refrain of “I get knocked down, but I get up again ‘cos nothing’s going to keep me down”.

As I chewed this over, whilst busting some stylish moves on the dance-floor, I was stuck by the profundity of this lyric as a new year anthem (although the original song is about getting wasted!).

Sadly 2017 probably will knock us down at some-point, there will be disappointments, pain, challenges and difficulties; the Bible puts it well “just as sparks fly upwards are people born to trouble” -yet often it is not what is thrown at us that is the issue but rather our response to it, how we deal with it, that will define 2017.

Do we let disappointments floor us?

Do we let pain take us out of the game?

Do we let challenges cause us to give up or give in?

Do we let difficulties cause us to descend into sin?

The Youth Worker, Mike Pilivachi, described “perseverance as a missing gift for today’s Church”, as too often we get knocked down but the problem is getting back up again isn’t something any of us find easy.

The Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Galatian Church “Do not grow weary in doing good for at the right time you will reap a (great) reward if you do not give up”.

There is a great verse in the minor prophets that says “Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.” Micah 7:8.

The question is simple “Where is God calling us in 2017” are we going to be faithful to that call, are we going to keep pursuing that call, despite the obstacles, challenges and difficulties?

I often feel like the New Year can feel like being the wrong end of the pitch with a rugby ball, and the whistle blows and we must run the length of the pitch with some hefty players trying to take you out of the game… Certainly this I think is the idea that the author of the book of Hebrews had when   talked in Chapter 12…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart”.

Not a bad message to start the new year with.

My favourite story about being down but not out comes at the end of John’s Gospel when Simon-Peter thinks he is completely out of the game, he had run away, he had denied Jesus three times, and had returned to his life before meeting Jesus back at the fishing boat. Yet it was here in when Simon-Peter was down and at his lowest, this place of ‘back to square one’, that Jesus met him, and asked him the most important question of all time “Jesus: ‘Do you love me?’” reinstated him and gave him a new commission.

Simon-Peter had fallen big time, but he was raised back up by Christ is spectacular style.

The place of failure became the place of commission (or re-commission).

Whatever 2017 held for you, consider this to be a new start, a fresh page, a new beginning; perhaps you need to hear Christ asking you afresh the most important question “Do you love me?” -and lifting you from the ashes to your feet, brushing you off and saying “we’ve got work to do, want to join me?”

So, let 2017 be a year of getting ups, even if it is a year of knocks, a year of restorations even if it is a year of failing, a year of returns even if it is a year of disappointments.

Being knocked down is not fatal, but giving up makes it so.

Getting knocked down may be a tragedy, but getting back up is a victory.

Everytime we get back on our feet it is a victory for the Kingdom of God, as we say to Satan, I may get knocked down but I will rise back up again and I will continue what God has started within me.

Let 2017 be a year of victory, of keeping going, of perseverance against the odds, a year of the advancement of the Kingdom of God for the glory of Christ.

 

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Discipleship, identity, Life in the Spirit, Life styles, New Year

Superhero?

i was watching Docrot Who on catch up, and it features a superhero character, a young guy swallows some gemstone from the Doctor and suddenly had superpowers, flies, superhuman strength and all that type of of thing.

As I flicked through my film magazine I have been struck by how many superhero movies there are coming out in 2017.

Ordinary people able to do extraordinary things.

Ordianry people able to overcome overwhelming obsticals.

As I thought about Superheroes I began to think how many of these guys are geeks -Spider-Man and SuperMan- not perfect toothed and chisled jawed Bond type but clumsy folk, awkward around the opposite sex and wear thick black rimmed glases!

The intersting thing about most of the superheroes ive watched is that they firstly have an acute sense of right and wrong, often the only one with the courage to not be swept along with the prevailing culture who seems oblivious to the wiles of the enermy, who seems to everyone else to be a good chap, but the superhero knows better.

Also, the superhero has the courage to act and not be a bystander, isn’t able to stand back and watch destruction, pain and hurt occur without doing something to prevent it.

Often too, the superhero, is prepared to to risk it all for the sake of the vision of a transformer and better world,  risking their lives often for the sake of someone so minor their character isn’t given a name on the final credits.

And yet as I thought more about this, I began to think actually the superheroes idea actually can teach us something of what it means to be followers of Jesus.

Now hold fire before you start donning a mask and wearing your pants on the outside of your clothes… But have a think about who we are.

We are ordinary people,we may feel a bit geeky or nerdy (I’m told there is a difference!) at times and yet we are ordinary people able to do extra-ordinary things, overcome overwhealming obsticals.

Yet as followers of Christ we are frontline fighters against an enermy the world is hoodwinked by.

As followers of Christ we are called not to just stand by but get involved and risking it all.

And although we dont have comic book abilities, we are temples of the Holy Spirit.

God himself, God of heaven, living within us.

He that is within us is greater than he that is within the world.

The same Holy Spirit is within us than that which raised Jesus from the dead.

I believe we should be expectant that God will work through us, Colosians talks of “God making his appeal through us” (just a few verses after it talks about “Christ In us the hope of glory”,reminding us of the illustration from 2 Corinthians talking about treasure -the Kingdom of God within us- in jars of clay -our common humanity).

So, although we’re not swinging around from building to building, we can be expectant that our very presence where-ever we go beings the light of Christ with us and thwarts the enermy, just our presence alters the a Spiritual DNA of the place. God himself chooses to shine out from us.

We have a God who chooses to work through his people, he wants his people to ben expectant, he even says “you will do greater things than I”.

More over he says to us “Just as my Father sent me, so I am sending you”. Luke and Paul write in scripture a lot about spiritual gifts, Luke showing Jesus performing miracles, authority over sickness, natural, the demonic and death, but then shows both 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation of CHristians  being active in healing, deliverance and even resurrection.

The Apostle Paul reminds us that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and that God can do “immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine”. Be expectant that God wants to use us both in our normal and natural every day CHristian life AND supernaturally.

He promises “to give us the words to say” our words have a prophetic edge, sometimes we realise it, other times (often) we don’t… “We hold out the word,that give life” (Phil).

Our prayers can change and rewrite history “the prayer of a righteous person acomplishes much” through Christ we have the authority to see body, mind and spirit healed.

The problem is we have this awesome power at our disposal and yet sadly it is under used in our everyday life.

Sometimes we feel like Gideon “I am the least in my family and my family is the least in Manasah” and yet God used him mightily.  The issue has never been whether God can use us to transform his world, the issue is whether we let him work in us as through us.

So let us go I’m to 2017 with a holiness and with courage, willing to speak and serve for Christ’s glory, but also prayerfully expectant to be used by God both through natural and supernatural means.

We might not wander around in capes with a big S on our fronts, but we have a missionand a generous God who equips thise he calls, and I believe he is calling you to tonight.

Today if you hear his voice do not harden your heart, instead lets respond in faith and expectancey that God will work through us supernormally and supernaturally.

As we step into 2017 let us remember we are not left high and dry but all the resources of heaven at our disposal.

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