Monday, 26 November 2012

wheelbarrows & cement

I love to be challenged on my faith. Not always, if I realize its not where I wish it were, but it gives me a goal.
Here is an excerpt from Loren Cunningham's, Daring To Live On The Edge about faith and finances, challenging each of us to step out in faith...
Is the life of faith worth it? If you have ever experienced it, it truly ruins you for the ordinary. Living the life of faith is like walking on a tightrope. It is an incredible thrill. 
In the 1800’s, an acrobat named Blondin (Jean-Francois Gravlet) became famous for crossing Niagara Falls by tightrope many times, usually with no safety net. 
One day a crowd gathered at the falls to watch his most dangerous attempt yet. He planned to push a wheelbarrow loaded with a heavy sack of cement across the tightrope. With that extra weight, the slightest miscalculation could tip the wheelbarrow and twist him off the wire, plunging him to death in the raging waters 160 feet below. 
When he made it to the other side, the throng let out its collective breath and cheered. What a feat! After his crossing, Blondin challenged a nearby reporter: “Do you believe I can do anything on a tightrope?” 
“Oh yes, Mr. Blondin,” said the reporter, “After what I’ve seen today, I believe it. You can do anything.” 
“Do you believe, then,” said Blondin, “that instead of a sack of cement, I could put a man in this wheelbarrow – a man who has never been on a tightrope before – and wheel him, without a net, safely over to the other side?” 
“Oh yes sir, Mr. Blondin,” said the reporter, “I believe it.” 
“Good,” said Blondin. “Get in.” 
The reporter paled and quickly disappeared into the crowd. It is one thing to believe something, but quite another to have that kind of faith in someone. 
However, one person that day did have that kind of faith in Blondin. This brave volunteer agreed to get into the wheelbarrow and cross the falls with the master acrobat. 
As Blondin tipped out the bag of cement and placed his passenger in the barrow, men on both sides of the falls quickly placed bets on the outcome. Then as the crowd cheered, Blondin made his way back across the falls, this time pushing a nervous passenger ahead of him. 
It looked like another easy conquest for the daredevil, but when they were halfway across the sixteen-hundred-foot rope, a man with a heavy bet against them crept over and cut one of the guy wires.   
Suddenly the tightrope pitched crazily back and forth, the force of the whipping motion gaining in intensity. As Blondin fought to keep his balance, he knew that they were seconds away from death. When the rim of the wheelbarrow came off the wire, they would both be pitched headlong into the churning waters. 
Blondin spoke, cutting through the terror of his passenger in the wheelbarrow. “Stand up!” he commanded. 
“Stand up and grab my shoulders!” 
The man sat there paralyzed. 
“Let go and stand up! Let go of the wheelbarrow! Do it or die!” 
Somehow the man managed to stand up and step out of the swaying wheelbarrow. 
“Your arms – put them round my neck! Now your legs – round my waist!” said Blondin. 
Again the man obeyed, clinging to Blondin. The empty wheelbarrow fell, disappearing into the frothy turmoil far below. The aerialist stood there, using all his years of experience and every trained muscle to stay on the wire until the pitching subsided a little. Then inch by inch he made his way across, carrying the man like a child. Finally he deposited him on the other side. 
That’s what it means to live the life of faith. You have to have real confidence in the One who is carrying you across. It is fairly easy to say you believe in God. But are you willing to have Him carry you across a tightrope, high above a roar of water? You can have that experience, you know. You can have the thrill of trusting God and seeing Him meet your needs. 
This is what it comes down to, in living by faith. It is faith in God Himself. There is no system or ritual to it. It is faith in a living person, faith that He will help you accomplish the job He has given you to do. 
He has big challenges, planned just for you. He wants you to have a major part in the most exciting race of history – the race to take the Gospel to every creature. He wants to see you be the best you can be – for Him, and for your world around you. Take up the challenge. Step out for Him. Trust Him. Dare to live on the edge. 

Saturday, 24 November 2012

irrational hermits?

Have you ever reacted to something completely irrationally, and had no clue why?
I don't know about you, but I've experienced this countless times. There are few things more frustrating than knowing that you're completely frustrated by something, and yet you have no clue why. Shouldn't we know ourselves better?

A few weeks ago, we had Melissa Helser come to speak to the Leadership Track. Among other things, she brought up the issue of "Inner Healing." Its quite the Christianese lingo, but the basic concept is digging to the depths of your soul and past, to try and get healing of anything that would hinder you from the fullness of experiencing God's love. Most people's experience with this, is a one-time session of tears and Kleenex trying to uncover any hidden hurt or anger. While this can be effective, its rare that you will have total "inner healing."
Well first of all, most of our memories are not that clear, and the really painful ones are locked away in some distant closet in the recesses of our heart, which makes it difficult to access in just one session.
But more importantly, these issues don't tend to manifest (make themselves known) in a big, dramatic fashion. More likely, they come out in the little things: becoming furious with a sister for stealing that one favorite shirt of yours, or, someone dumping out your cup of coffee before your finished. The little things that leave you reeling and wondering, "What could possibly be my issue?"
Well, I have wonderful news for you; it is called, "The Reflective Prayer".
This is an incredible tool, that you can use after those little outbursts, to partner with God in discovering, what exactly is going on. Its your own mini "inner healing session" that you can whip out of your back pocket as those inner recesses of hurt, anger, and wrong beliefs, bubble to the surface.

Here is how it works. Sit down with your journal  and write these things out (if you do not journal already, I highly recommend starting!). Once you get the hang of it and are more comfortable and confident in hearing God on this, you'll be able to do it in your head, on the fly.
**Note: Make sure that you have time to do the whole prayer! If you don't, than it can be easy to dig up a bunch of emotions and not deal with them, which will do more damage than good!

 Reflective Prayer
  1. Situation (be specific):
  2. ask the Holy Spirit, "What is going on?"
  3. Thoughts (actual thoughts you had):
  4. Emotions:
  5. Behavior (what did you do?):
  6. ask the Holy Spirit, "Why is this going on?"
  7. What do I believe about myself? (“I am” statements: e.g. “I am a failure” “I am powerless” “I am worthless” “I am rejected” - try to get to the root thought):
  8. What do I believe about Love/God? (What do these “I am” statements imply about my image of God? “God is” statements: e.g. “God is unsafe” “God is controlling” “God is powerless” “God is a perfectionist”):
  9. Confession (Write out a prayer of repentance of the lies you have believed in you heart about God and yourself, and invite the Father to speak His truth into these places of your heart):
  10. God’s Voice (let God speak truth into these places in your heart):
  11. New thoughts, emotions, behavior:
This has been an amazing tool for me. You'll begin to see similar beliefs emerge as you go through this more and more. As you work through each individual situation, you get deeper to the root-belief and will experience more freedom.

But a word to the wise. Don't allow this to make you introspective, or self-focused, all the time. Still be social, still seek accountability and guidance from people you trust. This isn't an excuse to become an emotional hermit whose trying to self-improve before experiencing life and relationship. 
Use this to teach you how to go to God first, and seek your identity and affirmation in Him.

It still takes believing in the truth that God has spoken over you, and walking in the new thoughts, emotions, and behavior He gives you. But its incredible to begin noticing how your thought patterns change, and your reactions become more... friendly. 

Trust God to move in your life. Trust in the power of His word. Believe that this is really who He has made you to be.