Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Dark Knight metaphor: A preview

The above is a trailer for 'The Dark Knight'. The new Batman movie.

I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet. But its brilliant. One of the best films I've ever seen and from Heath Ledger a phenomenal performance on screen. Tragic that he didn't live to witness it in full.

Its amazing how God can speak when you least expect it, and how you can have a spiritual experience without any mention of God. This is what happened when I saw it.

I would love to elaborate on exactly what He said, but that would spoil it for everyone as it kinda involves giving a bit of the story away.

I am going away for a week, but when I get back more of you will have seen it, and I will post on the film. I will try not to give too much away even then, but it will be easier when more of you have seen it.

I think its brilliant. Its two and a half hours long, but you barely notice it. It taps into all of our dark sides. Its in no way a comedy, but plays on a sadistic humour that many of us don't often acknowledge. It has incredible metaphors tied up inside it if you're open to them.

So I'll be back in a week or two and will explain all. In the meantime, go watch it. If you've got any doubts, watch the trailer.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Giving the glory to Jesus

Look at this picture.


Its one of the most powerful and iconic sporting images I've ever seen. In fact, personally its one of the most amazing pictures I've ever seen.

For those who don't know, this is the Brazilian footballer Kaka, one of the top three footballers in the world, who plays for one of the biggest clubs in the world, Milan, and the current World Footballer of the Year. Also a committed Christian, who consistently thanks God for his career after nearly being crippled as a teenager and publicly said he was going to remain a virgin until his wedding night.

This man is adored and worshipped by many thousands of fans all over the world and said to be worth £80 million on the football transfer market.

This picture was taken at the end of one of the biggest football matches in the world, the Champions League final, watched by millions all over the globe every year. Milan, his club, had just won the match and lifted arguably the biggest trophy in club football.

This is his moment.

This is the height of his fame and popularity. People from all over the world are queuing up to give him praise, worship, honour and congratulate him.

So what does he do?

He takes off his shirt to reveal a white vest with 'I Belong to Jesus' emblazoned on the front, kneels down, closes his eyes, puts his hands out open and looks up.

And worships, thanks, praises and honours God. Gives God the glory. Puts God first.

The temptation at that moment to savour the glory and take all the praise from the fans, players and media alike would have been incredible, especially when caught up in the emotion of a big football match like that.

But no. He gives glory to God, he has what is clearly a very intimate moment with his Saviour. He's clearly experiencing the power of the Spirit and having an amazing time with God.

Its such a powerful witness.

Whenever I see that picture it fires me up, it makes me want to shout from the rooftops about Jesus. It inspires me yet again to try to live a life centred around Jesus, it reminds me of what life is all about.

That despite what the world says, no matter what I do or where I am, that Jesus is Lord of everything, and is more important than anything else.

In a profession where people are worshipped, honoured, praised, showered with money and publicity, where the temptation to take the easy life is more than ever, this man instead uses his fame to glorify God. He chooses to give that glory back to Jesus.

I truly hope that in the hour of my greatest success and triumph, I have the humility to do the same.

That's something we should all praying for.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Todd Bentley - A response (2)

So back to Todd Bentley again. I fear this subject may becoming way too important so I don't really want to talk about it too many times.

You see that's a really big problem with this. That it distracts us from what's really important about our faith. Whether its actually being involved in it or talking about it, it takes up time.

Yes, we need to look at it and have a response to it. That's important.

But lets not let it distract us from what matters most.

I've had more time to reflect on it all, and I've come to see that the point when analysing this is not to make judgements. Its not to be legalistic. Its not to say 'this is Biblical and this isn't'. Isn't that something many of us criticise others for? Yes it is.

So lets not be hypocrites and make judgements. It's difficult not to, I know this. But its the only right response.

I believe God heals people and that He can do that in any way He chooses, and historically He has done. People like Smith Wigglesworth for example. A man of God, but who had his own methods.

God is gracious and loving, and all-powerful. He heals us and can perform miracles by His spirit even today, I have no doubt of that.

Our response needs to be not one of judgement. We need to be open to whatever God wants to do and how He chooses to do it, and whoever He chooses to do it with or through.

The issue has never been the healing for me because I believe God does heal and these healings could well be of God, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest it is, and some to suggest it might not be.

I'm concerned with the Kingdom of God and how it grows and advances. I'm concerned about playing my part in building a church - that is, a community of believers. I'm concerned with discipleship. I'm concerned about showing and telling people who Jesus really is. I'm concerned with building a community that supports and serves each other and the community around it.

I'm not into the latest trend. I'm not going to change what I believe or how I interpret the Bible.

Of course, we all should be looking for new interpretations of the Bible, new meanings, new perspectives. Of course we need to be trying to discuss how we can apply the basic doctrines of our faith today, and what it means to be a Christian now. Of course we need to keep the message fresh and new, and live and speak it in a way that is culturally relevant.

But that doesn't mean changing everything to fit with the latest trend. Because contrary to some belief, God isn't only at these events.

Oh and lets get rid of one misconception here. People calling this a revival.

No it isn't.

No, its really not.

Its not revival, because revival for me is when a large number of people come to faith in Christ, not just when lots of people are healed. So anyone calling it a revival is misguided.

Call it what it is. A mass outpouring of healing. Possibly an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

But I have said it before and I will say it again.


If this is Him at work through Todd Bentley then fine. Give Him the glory and worship Him for it.

If it isn't I pray that it is exposed as such and God brings it down.

We all should be praying for that.

We should be praying that if it is God, to work through it, and if it isn't, that He shows it up for what it is, and brings it to a halt.

We need to trust God to do that. He knows what He's doing. He's in control. We need to believe that and trust Him.

If it is God, then lets praise God for healing all those people. If it is God then He deserves the honour, praise and glory. If it is God, then its a very good thing.

But that brings me back to the point.

That this isn't the point.

That's its a sideshow.

Its not the major event or major work.

The real major ongoing work of God, what I believe is more important to Him, is building the Kingdom here.



Where we are.

The real work is us trying to live by Jesus values and standards each and every day, trying to become more like Him. Trying to stand for the values and truths He did and to grow in relationship with Him.

If God wants to heal, then let Him do so and praise and worship Him for it.

But lets not allow it to distract us from the root of our faith. If it does that, then that's a very bad thing.

If it does that, then either its not of God, or people have allowed themselves to be distracted and sucked in by a big stage show.

That's just consumer Christianity, a God who gives us what we want when we want or when we need it. In our time, on our agenda.

That's not God either.

So instead of putting all the focus on this, lets pray that God works through it and is at work in it. Lets thank God for healing people if it is Him, and give Him the glory He deserves.

Then lets back to the daily business of trying to live like Jesus and having a relationship with Him.

Trust God to deal with Todd Bentley, because for sure one day Todd Bentley will have to account to God for what He's doing, whether it is God or not.

Trust God and pray for His kingdom to come. That's the priority.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Church - Jesus style

I read today with despair but little surprise that the Church of England is on the verge of splitting over women priests and gay ordination.

More despair than anything.

What kind of message does this send out? The established church dividing again. Wow, what a surprise.

It just strikes me that none of this is what Jesus had in mind when he asked Peter to build His church.

Ask people what 'the church' means to most people now and they mention the institutions of church, the establishment church. They usually mean the Church of England or the Catholic church, which despite whatever they believe appear to a lot of people now as part of the established order, part of tradition, part of culture, even part of politics and royalty.

Jesus didn't come to become part of the establishment, He came to show them what they were doing wrong, and to take them on and re-define his culture.

Jesus didn't come to bring more legalism and tradition, He came to shame those who were very religious and legalistic, and to show them there is more to being a follower of God than following rules and regulations, or knowing the scriptures off by heart.

Jesus didn't come to start a religion, but to show us a new way to live.

Church as Jesus orginially intented, church 'Jesus style', is not a religion, its not establishment, its not legalistic, it doesn't get caught up in single issues and doesn't argue about being right or wrong.

Its a community trying to follow the way of Jesus, to stand for the values He stood for, taking a lead in fighting injustice, taking action where Jesus would take action, making choices daily for God, serving each other, giving to each other, blessing each other, living at peace and don't falling out over 'disputable matters', and showing love and grace to all people, welcoming everyone no matter who they are.

Its a way of life, an organism.

Its constantly changing, growing, learning, developing, nurturing and evolving.

Churches are outwardly different in how they put their faith in to practice, depending on the circumstances, location, culture, need and type of people where its located.

But at their heart they should have the same values, desires, passion, and inspiration. They should all have the way of Jesus at their heart.

Churches shouldn't be political or be used as political tools but, as individuals and as a collective, should be activists, taking the lead in global and local issues where God's values aren't being upheld, and setting the agenda locally, nationally and internationally. They should be leading the way. United, together, as a body and a family and focused on the same thing.

What is happening to the established church today saddens me. Because that name we give it isn't what it really is.

I don't want to give it the name church anymore, because its beginning not to deserve it anymore. Its giving Jesus and His church - His people, that is - a bad name, a wrong name.

Its certainly not the church Jesus had in mind. Its not church, 'Jesus style.'