Monthly Archives: July 2012

Where Is Jesus?

This is part three of a four part series leading up to the launch of Shore Vineyard Churches, new church plant “INTERSECTION”. These four weeks will be related to the first service which is called “Who is Jesus: Facts, stories and questions about the most influential man in history.” For more information on Intersection, visit the Shore Vineyards website here

“If your God is REAL, then why is there poverty in the world?”

“If Jesus EXISTS, Why do people get sick and die?”

“This thing* happened to me… WHERE is Jesus?”

I’m never quite sure how to answer these questions. How do you answer questions that you yourself have wrestled with multiple times? Agonised over? Had sleepless nights over? These are not normal questions. These are questions that are often birthed in the midst of hurt and despair. Questions that reflect a deep longing for understanding. The standard Christian responses of “God has a bigger plan dear” and “we will only understand it when we die” are, in my opinion, nothing more than a cop out or coping mechanism.

Reality check: S@*# Happens.

I honestly wish that could be my standard answer. But history has shown me that that attitude hardens the heart or moistens the eyes, and rarely brings about positive forward momentum.

No, in order to tackle these things, we need to develop our understanding of our surroundings, our culture, our scriptures, and our God.

And so these questions need to bring about… more questions. Only then might we begin to grow and find some answers.

For example, we may find ourselves with a more robust understanding of our planet. In Genesis we see God saying creation is “good”-  therefore we know it is not “bad”. That means that God, in loving his planet, perhaps does not symbolically “shake up his church” when an  earthquake hits, but rather that earthquakes are a reality of living on a dynamic planet. A planet that, without tectonic plates, could not sustain life of any kind. Perhaps earthquakes are simply the aches and groans of a planet that gives way to our very existence. Just a thought.

What about poverty though? Surely a loving God would click his fingers and abundance would be everywhere right?  Maybe we need to consider more carefully the things Jesus said and modeled. Perhaps we need to remember when He called us His body, that meant that our hands and feet are to do what His hands and feet did. We are to go and bless as He went and blessed. as Mr Wright puts it:

“If we are truly praying to God’s honour, we can never simply pray for ourselves. We MUST pray for the needs of the whole world – where millions go hungry and starve. And as we pray we realize that if we TRULY pray, we may also have to do something about it – (we may have) to become part of God’s answer to our own prayer”

And finally, Jesus may actually not abandon us in times of need, but could potentially be right there in the midst of our brokenness, hurt and despair – longing to love us and tend to our wounds.

What if our definition of miracles and answers to prayer could become so much larger than what it currently is? What if asking questions and seeking bigger answers lead us to realise that in the midst of everything, Jesus IS there, and is working

in us

with us and

through us?

Perhaps then we might find the answer we are looking for.

Jesus… was here… all along.

 

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Things Jesus didn’t say…

This is part two of a four part series leading up to the launch of Shore Vineyard Churches, new church plant “INTERSECTION”. These four weeks will be related to the first service which is called “Who is Jesus: Facts, stories and questions about the most influential man in history.” For more information on Intersection, visit the Shore Vineyards website here

Jesus was never intimidated by questions, and asked a few challenging ones of his own. But that doesn’t mean that everything he said was a grey area. Jesus had some very specific things to say.

So I found myself doing a quick check through of the gospels recently to scope a few things out. Feel free to correct me but it seems that…

Jesus didn’t say “Build elaborate and excessive church buildings”

Jesus didn’t say “Protest outside funerals and condemn homosexuals”

Jesus didn’t say “The storms will never come”

Jesus didn’t say “My grace allows you to do as you please”

Jesus didn’t say “Give, and your wallet will grow”

Jesus didn’t say “Eternity starts after you die”

Jesus didn’t say “Establish church hierarchy”

Jesus didn’t say “Follow me and become a down and sombre character about life”

Jesus didn’t say “Judge others ruthlessly for their actions”
Jesus did however, tell us to live a life of radical love and generosity – giving up all that is ours for him (Matthew 13:45-46).  He did tell us to  turn from our own agendas and seek first the kingdom of God (Mark 1:15, Matthew 6:33). He did tell us to bless the poor (Matthew 6:2-4) and to feed his lambs (John 21:15-17). Jesus invited us to follow him (Matthew 4:19) and learn from his ways. He leads us to teach, heal and serve mightily in his name (Mark 9:38-41) . He tells us to mend broken bridges (Matthew 5:24), and shows us how to be advocates for restoration (Luke 8:48). He shows us that greatness is not defined by military power, but rather by the humble and submissive act of serving someone (John 13:1-20).  Jesus tells us to simply remember him by partaking of the bread and the wine (Luke 22:14-23).

And above everything, Jesus tells us to hinge/dress/hang/frame/support every action of our life with a deep deep love for God AND a deep deep love for other people (Matthew 22:34-40)

When I met Jesus…

This is part one of a four part series leading up to the launch of Shore Vineyard Churches new church plant “INTERSECTION”. These four weeks will be related to the first service which is called “Who is Jesus: Facts, stories and questions about the most influential man in history.” For more information on Intersection, visit the Shore Vineyards website here

In some ways, you have all heard this story. Some of you may have heard mine personally, but chances are you have heard a similar story of someone else who perhaps lives in a very different part of the world, or at a different time in history.

It’s a story that goes along those all too familiar redemptive lines. The story involves an average teenage boy who gets OK grades, plays High School Rugby and Volleyball, dabbles a little in social drugs and alcohol, skateboards at every spare moment and enjoys the company of girls way too much. Things are flipped upside down when his dad is diagnosed with terminal cancer. His life spirals downwards until he is invited to join a pop punk band with a friend of his, and inadvertently finds himself in a youth group, listening to other young people “worship Jesus”. It’s weird – but he wants what these people seemingly have. So he “gives his life” to Jesus Christ. His life is changed forever.

My life was changed forever.

Sure the specifics aren’t the same, but chances are you have heard this story before. But this PARTICULAR story is special and unique in that it is MINE. I gave my heart to Jesus in the basement of my now-pastor’s house that night, and since then I have been on a journey. A journey that has taken me through the inevitable highs and lows of discipleship, but ultimately a journey I wouldn’t change for the world. It is a journey that has made me the man I am today – A man sold out for the kingdom of God and dedicated to sharing the love of Jesus with everyone possible.

That night, Life began. And I don’t mean in a way that life was bad before and now it is awesome and I have everything my heart desires. In a lot of ways my life is exactly the same as before. But it kinda feels like everything became real, more vivid somehow. For you old timers, it was the switch from black and white television to colour. For the new timers it was the switch from dial-up to broadband. Nothing was new –  just more amazing. Life was real, it was happening, and it was happening vividly.

I felt alive.

And then these new words came into my vocabulary. and with Jesus those words became the very air I inhaled.

Hope. Purpose. Love.

Words I had known all my life, Yet I was discovering them for the first time.

As I finish, Let me share a story. Below is a picture of a skatepark near my house. I have skated there since I was 13 years old. Skateboarding there was always “fun” and “cool”. Nowadays when I skate there I go early in the morning. I love the sound of the ocean mixing with the sound of wheels on concrete. I love the fresh sea breeze hitting my face as I fly around the park. The sounds of birds and metal trucks on coping come together to form a song so harmonious I cannot describe it or replicate it. I feel Alive. I feel the presence of Jesus. I feel delight, joy and love.

With Jesus, since I met him, things – experiences, activities, adventures, conversations and whatever else you can think of – have become SO MUCH MORE REAL to me.

And it is, quite simply, worth it.

Browns Bay Skatepark

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