Thursday, 29 January 2009

A week of great consequences..!

Our prayer meeting yesterday evening marked the end of our week of prayer, our annual ‘24x7 Prayer’. I am so appreciative of the enthusiastic army of Kings-folk, young & old, who sign up to take an hour’s slot in the Prayer Room, some at the dead of night, to pray for things personal, national and international. Well done!
Posted on the walls is information of all the endeavours that we are engaged in at Kings, along with prayer cards carrying handwritten requests for prayer – every one important, each expressing a heart-felt desire for God’s intervention.
Yet it is perfectly understandable, in the midnight hours (or actually at any time!) to entertain the thought “Why am I doing this? Is anybody listening?” Yet under-girding the prayer of every Christian is the promise of God’s unswerving and responsive attention.

I recently spoke on the verse: Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.( Hebrews 4:16). This verse torpedoes so many misconceptions & obstacles to prayer. For instance, the temptation for most is to feel distinctly lacking in confidence when praying, and to feel that the most appropriate time to pray is when you’ve been doing rather well on the religious score card, and even then, one shouldn’t really make requests for oneself – that’s selfish! But that is totally back to front. This verse tells us – or should I say, in this verse God tells us that an excellent time to pray is in a time of need, that we should do so in order to receive mercy & grace to help us, and that we can do so with confidence, because it has absolutely nothing to do with our spiritual score card and everything to do with the finished work of Jesus on the cross on our behalf. Doesn’t that just make prayer more enjoyable and do-able?

And one last thing – that word ‘confidence’ actually means to speak freely, openly, with confidence. In other words, prayer for the Christian should not be the reciting of artificial, archaic dead words like some sort of mantra, but the conversation of friends. Karl Barth put it like this: In obedience the Christian is the servant of God, in faith he is the child of God, but in prayer he is the friend of God, called to the side of God, and at the side of God, living, ruling & reigning with Him.

Thanks again Kings for your every effort this past week – we await the great stories that will surely result!



Tuesday, 20 January 2009

"It's a miracle!"

The news was dominated at the end of last week by the amazing story of the US Airlines jet that crash landed into the Hudson river, right on the doorstep of densely populated Manhattan, with not one fatality. BBC reported: Captain Chesley Sullenberger was praised by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his "masterful" landing. The state governor spoke of a "miracle on the Hudson".
The same day I read a news article about a couple who, with medical help, had been able to conceive after the husband had undergone cancer treatment that would normally prevent the couple from conceiving. Again, It’s a miracle! was their response.
Now without wanting to read too much into those spur of the moment exclamations, it does make me think that in those extreme moments of personal vulnerability, when there is an unlikely turnaround, there seems to be an inbuilt response of gratitude that sees something more significant than ‘good luck’. Fatalism (or more precisely determinism) even in good situations, won’t quite do. There’s a sense that something or someone is acting kindly towards them.

As economies wobble and people face uncertainties of all kinds, I do believe that it causes us all to dig a little deeper into the meaning of it all – and the significance of our lives. It’s not that religion is a crutch or the opiate of the people that dulls the senses, quite the opposite! In the words of C S Lewis, God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. With so much spurious noise going on all around, I am convinced that it is God’s desired intention to break through, to still our storms, and thus gain the attention of a generation that badly needs to be awakened to His presence and purpose without which, there is no meaning.


By the way – I do apologise for getting out of routine with my Blog. I do intend to get back to writing it weekly, Sunday afternoon! Having said that, this weekend I shall be in Germany taking a weekend for Newfrontiers’ leaders, so I shall try to Blog a few words from Germany!


Sunday, 11 January 2009

Let the nations be glad!

What a start to a new year – bloodshed in Gaza, adding to the grim lists of war zones around the world, starvation in Zimbabwe, and very uncertain times for all of us, with the world’s economies in chaos. I must admit that I am finding watching the news just now to be quite an ordeal – there isn’t much joy around!
Which prompts me to reflect again on a great little book by John Piper entitled ‘Let the Nations be glad’. Not many would object to that! Taking the title from Psalm 67, John Piper points out that the worship of God in all the world is the ultimate goal, and that in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory. What a wonderful way to describe the task of the church, not to browbeat or lecture, but to bring people into the enjoyment of God that we were all made for.

It follows then, that it really is important that as Christians, we live with a very real enjoyment of God, and that there is a gladness about us as people who have tasted the goodness of God and His reign in our lives. In fact, joy is a sign that the Kingdom of God (that is, the royal activity of God) has come in our lives, For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17. In fact Jesus attested to this when he stood up in the synagogue in Nazareth and read from Isaiah 61: The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me…,etc etc, because he went on in quoting that passage to say: to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. Now that is something that is very attractive in days when gloom seems to lurk around every corner – and it is the inheritance of every Christian.
So the opportunity is there now, for Christians everywhere to enjoy God, and in so doing stand out from the crowd and the gloom that hovers.
Don’t allow the gloom to swamp you! Keep yourself in the love and enjoyment of God. It’s our calling and our mission!

Happy New Year!