Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Reason That I Live

I guess it's about time for another update. Every day is packed so full that it's hard to know where to start. A brief summary: Last week Mandy Hudson gave teaching on the Holy Spirit. It was a really powerful time and opened many eyes to the reality of God's presence and power in our everyday lives. It was by far the most well-rounded teaching on the Holy Spirit that I have ever heard and for some of our students it was the first they had ever heard. The teaching was well interspersed with prayer times and prophetic actions. A few students received huge revelation or healing while others struggled to feel God's love at all. Whatever the experience, I believe everyone came away with the desire for more.
Right now we are midway through Dalton Lifsey's teaching on the Pursuit of the Knowledge of God. Dalton is the associate director of the Tauranga House of Prayer so he speaks out of a depth of personal experience that really backs up the intense message that he preaches. His first message really shook everyone up and was so convicting that about a quarter of the school started fasting immediately afterward.
It is so refreshing to be reminded of how worthy our God is and how little anything else matters. In Luke 14 Jesus talks about the cost of being His disciple. He goes so far as to say that "any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple".
Sometimes I feel like I've given up a lot to be where I am right now. When I compare it to the plight of the persecuted church really it is nothing at all and yet I would be a fool not to ask myself "is all this really worth it?" It's an important question but somewhat misleading. My eyes of flesh hinder me from seeing reality. I should rather ask myself "is He worthy?"
And then the answer is yes, it's always yes
Imagine that you are in the throne room of Heaven and you ask one of the four living creatures or the twenty four elders who sings praise to God unceasingly whether they think what they are doing is really worth it. I imagine that they would have this to say:
"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."
"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!"
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!"
That's the reason that I live. That the Lamb who was slain would receive the reward of His suffering.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Life is Crazy God is Good

The focus of this week was an introduction to backpacker ministry. Every year millions of young people leave the comforts of home behind and go on a spiritual journey to "find themselves" through experiencing different people, places and cultures through worldwide travel. Every backpacker has their own story. Every backpacker has their own reasons for traveling. Every backpacker is searching for something. Unfortunately, few ever find it. This people group is almost entirely unreached. Less than 1% of all backpackers follow Jesus Christ. Our goal is to reverse that trend. We realize that backpacking is more than just a physical journey but also a spiritual one. We want to see that journey take people into knowing who God is and finding fulfillment in Him.
I've done my share of backpacking and I have found that no matter where I go the one thing that ties all backpackers together is longing. We all long for something... something more, something different, something real. It's the feeling you get when you see the sun rising over the Himalayas and you weep for an hour and you don't know why. Or when the moon casts such a bright reflection over a still lake that you feel sure you could walk across it and never break the surface. Or when you're driving along a bumpy desert road in the back of an open jeep and all you can see is sand and dust stretching out in every direction but you can't help but smile and whisper "it's beautiful". It is that feeling that defines the life of a backpacker.
These are my people. My heart breaks for them. They are so desperate. They are so hungry. They are so lost. My Father longs to bring them home and give them rest. O God, have mercy.

One of the things that we did this week was split into smaller groups and spread out into nearby hostels for one night to give the students a taste of what the backpacker lifestyle is like and practical experience on how we can reach out to them. I was with a group of eight that stayed in Akaroa, a beautiful little town on the coast. The high season hasn't really started in this area yet so we only met a few people but it was a great first experience for the students. (No one in my group had ever stayed in a hostel before.) Pray for Roman, a young German on a working holiday visa. He's running out of money and having trouble finding work. Pray that more Christians would come across his path and show him true generosity. Thank God for Fraser, the hostel owner, who gave us some really good discounts and even gave us directions to a secluded bay where we got to see a whole flock of rare little blue penguins!
This Friday afternoon was our first official day of evangelism in Christchurch. I am co-leading a team that hangs out in the cathedral square. It is the main hub of pedestrian activity in the city and hundreds of people come through every day. Several members of our team played guitar and sang worship songs, others used chalk or signs with questions like "do you believe in healing?" to start conversations, some hung around the life sized chess board. I was very encouraged to see each student cling to Jesus and step a little bit further out of their comfort zone. Personally, I just hunted down people who were sitting alone on park benches and awkwardly started conversation. Besides one elderly Asian man who didn't speak a word of English I had quite positive results. I was particularly excited to meet Hirosh, a Japanese man who left home seven years ago and has only been back for two weeks in that whole time. He spent two years working in Egypt, two in Australia, traveled India, Thailand... I lost track of all the rest. He just arrived in New Zealand two days ago and is looking for a sheep farm to work on. I'm trying to find some Christians near Oxford that might take him in.

Life is crazy. God is good. I need your prayers.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Spring is Coming!

This is an exciting new season that we are moving into at YWAM Oxford. We just finished week one of the Backpacker's Discipleship Training School (BDTS) and the new batch of students are pumped and ready to go. It's a real blessing to see their hearts so eager for God. The fruit of our last month of prayer, intercession and worship is evident.
During our first evening of worship one of the songs that we sang had this line as the chorus:

Chains be broken
Lives be healed
Eyes be opened
Christ is revealed

God spoke to me very powerfully through that and confirmed His call for me to be here right now. Those four simple lines describe the reason that I am here so perfectly. When I initially felt God calling me to staff this DTS the term "chain breaker" kept on popping up again and again in my mind. This is my prayer.
Isaiah 61 is one of the passages that God has given me for this time. Both for myself and for this DTS:

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
You shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God; you shall eat the wealth of the nations, and in their glory you shall boast. Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.
"For I the LORD love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. Their offspring shall be known among the nations, and their descendants in the midst of the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are an offspring the LORD has blessed."
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.

It is such an honour to be a part of what God is doing on the Earth. This has been a busy, busy week. Here's a few of the things that I have been up to. Last weekend was spent driving to and from the airport and welcoming new students onto the base. Our welcome barbecue was on Sunday night. Each of us staff has a few areas of responsibility. Some of mine are organizing base and community work duties (and hopefully inspiring a good work ethic), being the house monitor for the guy's residence (the ghetto), and helping to plan the weekend activities. We haven't started our full schedule yet but next week I will also be co-leading a bible study group, leading a Friday night outreach in Christchurch (which I still need to plan, oops) and leading a small group of three guys (hopefully getting some one on one time with each of them as well). There are a lot of logistical things to get done but the first priority is always to be discipling the students. The school could be really efficient and well run but it would be worthless if lives were not eternally impacted for the Kingdom.
Thank you to all of you for partnering with me in prayer. As I told the students in my testimony on Friday, I would not be here if it were not for those who have dedicated themselves to praying for me.