Sunday, 24 February 2008

HD-DVD is dead... long live the King.

So. Toshiba announced last week that they will cease production of their HD-DVD players, abandoning the format altogether and acknowledging that Sony's Blu-Ray format has won the war. And I'd only just bought a Toshiba HD-DVD player back in January. Darnit. My brother-in-law, very helpfully, counselled me to "accidentally" break it and ask Toshiba for my money back (perish the thought that he'd ever actually say such a thing, so unlike him :-))(and I haven't by the way). Instead, I'm looking on the bright side: I should be getting some cheap Hi-Def movies from the likes of and HMV shortly. See? It's not all bad.

But it did get me thinking. The world we live in is so much more than just skin and bone, metal and plastic, bread and water. There's a spiritual realm that contains a constant, current battle around us and so many forget or simply don't realise. I'm not going to go off on a "Matrix" analogy, don't worry (!), but how many people live solely in a world that will always die and fade away? The money we earn, the houses we buy/rent/paint, the gadgets we play with, the careers we build, the bands we listen to. It's stuff. And stuff is destined to die.

I've been greatly challenged by a book I'm halfway through reading - Bill Johnson's "When Heaven Invades Earth" - and realised that once again I'd been compartmentalising my life by stealth into two quarters: God's Kingdom and the world outside. Every now and again I need another poke in the ribs to stop doing that and realise that this faith I have - that Jesus Christ is alive and well, that all things were made through Him and for Him, that He, through His unimaginably horrible death and His mind-blowing resurrection has paved the way for me to live forever reconciled with God, far beyond this decaying life into eternity - is relevant for every single part of my life, not just "church" stuff and occasional opportunities to share my belief with friends and family. Bill Johnson reminds us who believe that the Holy Spirit can have dynamite power (the Greek "dynamis" is one word used to describe God's power in the Bible; the Holy Spirit's work is dynamite!) in each and every aspect of our lives. Darnit, why does my little brain keep forgetting that? I do know it really, I always do, but still it slips regularly from my thinking...

So, I put it into practice. I bumped into a mate of mine yesterday with whom I'd previously had opportunities to share my faith in some small way, and he'd even opened up about his depression before. I'd offered to remember him in prayer, and he'd appreciated it. And I had. But yesterday, good ol' Bill Johnson was on my mind when I saw my pal outside his place of work, so I immediately began praying under my breath while I sauntered over, speaking in tongues, inviting the Holy Spirit into the situation and asking Him to guide me and demonstrate God's reality to my friend. He was hunched over his car with the engine running, bonnet up, scratching his head. He informed me he'd been having some problems with it, and had also had no heating inside for some weeks. He jumped into the driver's seat to demonstrate; I promptly stuck my head under the bonnet and asked God to fix the heating right there and then.

"It's working!" shouted my mate. "I've got heat!"

Thank You, Lord... "Do you want to make the most of this?" I asked him. "Want me to pray for anything else?"

"You could pray for my depression," he replied. So I did; we jumped into the (warm!) car and I laid hands on him, asking God to lift my pal's spirit, to show Himself to him, and commanded the depression to go in Jesus' Name. I must admit, we did start having a good laugh afterwards...

It's not the be all and end all; I'm expecting bigger things the next time I have a decent chance to chat with him again. But he came away from that moment with a tangible realisation that there's more to this life than what we merely see with our eyes. Praise God.

So, HD-DVD is dead. But my King lives and I'm intending to live more and more in the light of that. And get a few cheap discs while I'm at it too. Read more!

Sunday, 10 February 2008

...And here we go...

When Jennie and I came up with our "Every day's an adventure" motto for family life once Amy arrived (it’s a mindset thing: how best to instil in Amy a life-affirming, positive, "carpe diem" attitude? By realising that we have a purpose in this life, a reason for living, and that leads to seeing the abundant life that Christ promises us; see Psalm 16:5-11 for starters… :-)), we had little idea how that would really be fulfilled. We’d simply hoped that Amy and ourselves might remember that each and every day we live contains opportunities to learn more, grow more, bless more, enjoy more, embrace more, love more, cry more, worship more… and so the list goes on. But little did we know what God had up His sleeves (and they’re BIG ones, believe me)...

Jennie and I have been so blessed by our family at City Church since we joined in ’99. They have been, and still are, amazing. They have been and will be family in every sense (luv ya xxx). Since then, God has been fulfilling His prophecy over me (as given by Chris McLean when He visited City in May ‘01, and supported since by prophetic words from the likes of Graham Hall and my great buddy Gustav) that I would have my “utility belt” equipped with various “tools” for ministry over time. Where I was a little pastoral, I would become very pastoral; where I was a little prophetic, I would become very prophetic; the same with organisational skills, and so on. It was very much about an all-round gifting in many ways and I was certainly grateful but still a little confused – not to mention frustrated - as to what that really meant: surely I’d just be a “Jack of all trades, master of none”? Where was my specific calling? My specific “that” for which Christ took hold of me (Phil 3.12)?

Well, THAT’s the point. THAT is my “that”, of course... and now it’s become clearer than a Hi-Def picture (I love my HD player… :-))...

God has unequivocally called us to be a part of Beacon Church in Herne Bay. He has spoken to Jennie and I in a powerful way to join the guys there (John and David are the elders at Beacon; great, Godly guys) in laying the foundations for something profoundly new. Since November, Jennie and I and the elders of Beacon & City (our very own Tom “Absolutely” Shaw has been so gracious and supportive; thank you so much, you’re a diamond), along with Graham Hall who oversees the East Kent network of New Frontiers churches, have been praying through and working out what God has been saying to us, and now we have a better understanding, if not yet of the finer details, of God’s dream for the town. Beacon Church itself is (currently!) small, and of a predominantly older demographic, but far outweighing that aspect is their desire for God to move, to bring growth, to reach out to the younger people in Herne Bay (an ever-increasingly younger community of over 35,000 people – a massive opportunity for God to do His usual amazing work), to see them added to the local church, and a dependence on the Holy Spirit for counsel, guidance and inspiration. This is truly exciting stuff.

The details and timing for our move are still to be thrashed out over the next few weeks, and we need to be subsequently patient in developing a God-founded, Christ-centred, Spirit-led vision and strategy for what God has prepared for Beacon Church and the local community. Either way, this is the true epitome of adventure: where we will see God’s hand at work, souls saved, the church added to, the sick healed, lives transformed and broken relationships restored (*), and Jesus Christ – the Answer to everything in this life and beyond – glorified throughout. Where my all-round gifting that God has been developing in me will make itself evident in His intentions. Where Jennie, Amy and myself will grow immensely. And where I HAVE to give Him all the glory – without Whom there would be no such giftings, no spiritual growth, no hope in a fallen world. And no adventure.

Thank You, Lord. Here we go...

(*) If you’re reading that list and think it all sounds a bit utopian, believe me, I’ve seen exactly those things happen on many occasions; even while I type this, names are already springing to mind on each and every one of those counts. This is real, not romance. Thank God :-)

Read more!