4/26/2009 11:35:00 pm

Soul Thoughts

Posted by Unknown |

So I'm back from Soul now. I drove home last night at 11. I got home at 2am. It was great. I had such a good time. I drove, listened to sermons, and prayed. Nice.

I had a very good time at Soul. I did a seminar called "The Bible Makes Me Giggle". It was much fun. I got to spend an hour looking at many of the best incidences of genitalia, farting, fatness, talking animals, preaching zombies and fighting bears in the Bible. I can't think of a more fun topic to cover. When I get a copy I'll stick it online. I'll also link to the videos we made if they get YouTubed.

I have come back from Soul Survivor with things to think about. It was a good year for challenge. These are the things that are running through my head.

First up I'm thinking about the role of signs and wonders in the life of the church and especially in evangelism. Mike did a talk about how Jesus and the Apostles used signs and miracles for the purpose of bringing people to faith in Jesus. He was saying that God is still wanting to do it today, the problem is on our end.

For me, I totally agree but I'm rather sceptical that I'll see it. I believe in God's power to do miracles today. I believe he heals and I believe he does other miraculous signs, and I believe he does it to glorify himself and it's often in the context of evangelism.

But I never see it. Every now and again I hear stories. (My Dad's back got healed the other the week, that was pretty awesome.) But I don't feel like it'll happen when I'm involved. I try and pray in faith that things will happen, but I don't often see a miraculous answer. I tend to feel like if God's gonna heal, chances are it'll be through the normal ways. As usual I feel like that guy who says to Jesus "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief."

Mike told a story about a guy who had a vision, and the point of the vision was that God wanting to pour out his power on everyone, but only some people were willing to accept it. It make sense but I don't see it.

Mike also talking about the same guy who was challenged by God to preach healing from the Bible saying "Are you going to believe what you see or what I say in my Word?" I believe the Word, but it gets hard when you don't see it in practice.

It's also hard when you have a theology that says it's not about what you do, but what God does. It's not about how hard you pray, or using the right formulas and twisting God's arm to do things, God heals and does miracles because he wants to when he wants to. And if that's the case then you automatically ask why God isn't doing them with the frequency we would like.

The balancing argument to that is that Jesus generally heals as a result of people's faith. So we're left with this problem of how do we manage to find the right way to have faith to see it happen. And then there are all the books and seminars on how to pray for healing and see God work. If it's up to God to work, surely we don't need a seminar on the techniques on how to get God to work. Surely God sees our heart and not our technique.

I guess all this leaves me with a good sized desire to see God work, but I'm jaded because I don't see it happen. At least not in the miraculous ways. I see God work. I see people become Christians, I see him provide, I see him guide me and my friends, I see that he changes people, I see that he is always faithful. I just don't see him healing and doing miraculous things when I'm around, and I want to. I want to because I want other people to see God, and see the God I see. I feel like I could go the rest of my life and never see a "sign" or "wonder" and not lose any faith in God. But if God wants to work in the Church in bringing people to himself through his supernatural displays of power then I want to see that, and I want to be part of that, I just don't quite know how to get involved.

I'll read a book.

Second I've been thinking about how to love the people around me, particularly those who are not Christians. I really want to, I just feel like I'm crap at it. I left ministry this year to be freer to work engage with people who are not of my faith, but it's not really happening much. I'm challenged but I'm not sure how to execute. I don't know how to meet the needs of those around me, and I don't know how to love my neighbours.

I need to keep praying that God will give and show me opportunities. I'm pretty sure that's a prayer he wants to answer.

Thirdly I've been thinking about chasing my dreams. There was a talk done by one of my friends about how God is the author of our dreams and so we shouldn't give up on them or think they're un-Godly. We should be free to dream, to never give up on our dreams, and free to chase our dreams.

In some ways it worries me. It reminds me of that worship song that asks "Would you believe me if I said that all of the dreams in your heart can come true today?" Which I would reply to wholeheartedly with a "No". (Though the talk wasn't actually saying that.)

I don't believe that God is going to make all my dreams come true. My t-shirt that says "Not all dreams can come true" sums up how I feel (which incidentally I was wearing on the day of the talk). I don't believe I will ever be a rock star, astronaut or kung-fu master. I don't even think there is much of a chance that I'll be a famous film director.

On the other hand, I do believe that God is the author of our dreams. And I believe in dreams and I believe in people pursuing them to the extent that they fit in with what God is wanting to do. I want people to be free to dream and to dream big. When people start restricting their dreams, when they stop believing that they can achieve anything they want they start settling for second best, and start compromising. They compromise their dreams for their comfort. And I believe in dreams a lot more than comfort. When people stop dreaming they tend to stop taking risks and a life without risk seems to be a life running counter to a life of faith.

I think the biggest challenge of the talk came because my life is a life that has been shaped by God's call on me to give up my dreams. From when I was 4 or 5 I have always loved film and television production. Till I was 18 there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to work in film and television. And then one night God turned up and said to me, in the clearest conversation I've ever had with God, "I want you to go into youth ministry." God clearly asked me to give up my dreams. And I did. I did because there is no use fighting God.

Now my life is not about getting into the film industry, it's about how I can be a better full time worker for Jesus. My whole life is the way it is, not because I followed my dreams, but because God asked me to give my dream up.

The challenge of the talk was to make me consider if I am now a person who has denied my God given dreams to pursue something that is more seemingly pious. I now have an attitude that any great desire I have needs to be handed over to God. I'm suspicious of anything I want to do, because it could easily be something God doesn't want to do. I make myself dream with my hands open.

I don't really live free of dreams. God asked me to give up one dream to give me a better one. God is the author of my dreams and I'm sure God gave me the dream to work in film and television. And that's a dream that has paid dividends in my life. I just spent a week making videos. But more than just giving me my own dreams, God is also the author of new, bigger and better dreams.

If God calls you to be a rock star or an astronaut then that's pretty awesome. But if God calls you to be a youth minister, a preacher, a missionary, a full time mum, a school teacher, or a hairdresser, you haven't lucked out, God has just authored a better dream for you.

But if God calls you to be a rock star, astronaut, full time mum or missionary, but you're too afraid to take the risk and just settle for something that makes you more comfortable, that's when you've lucked out. God is the author of dreams, safety and comfort kill them.

I think that's what the talk was getting at. God doesn't want us to settle for the small things. God wants us to dream, to dream big, to dream out loud and to dream with Him. It wasn't anti-sacrifice it was just pro-chasing the dream. The dream to change to world and the dream to be everything you can be in Christ.

Jesus' call on our life is that we must give it up in order save it. The Christian life is one of greater denial of self so that we can have a greater participation in the life of Christ. Often that will mean giving up on your dreams so that you can take hold of God's dreams. We are not called to lose the ability to dream, but we are called to be willing to give up our own so that God may give us new ones. And that sounds good to me.

I don't want to be comfortable. I want to chase God's dreams, always.

Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
- Psalm 37:4

And that's what I'm thinking about.