Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trusting in Horses and Chariots

The past ten days had seemed so very quiet (hence a quiet blog). You get accustomed to seeing signs from God, especially when they are happening all the time. When they stop, it feels like a drought. I had been studying a particular theological book and the writer was giving practical advice in regard to the ups and downs of ministry blessings. He called them mountains and valleys.

In his own ministry he had experienced much of both. Initially the valleys would form in between the euphoric highs of the mountains and often would bring depression. A low period, even feelings of insecurity; thinking have I done something to upset God? However, over time this learned man had realized something I hadn't ( though I was about to). The lows are there to allow our bodies to rest. To recharge, to be satisfied in the simplest of things not just in the 'highs'. Contentment in all situations (see Apostle Paul). There I was feeling low that God was quiet and as I read this book I suddenly realised God was talking to me - direct, yet again. Straight away my heart rate increased, I was on the way back up a mountain! Adrenalin pumping and the euphoria of a God sign sitting in the palm of my hand. I don't know what I was more excited about, the fact God had made Himself very aware to me or that the advice He was giving me was so practical. You NEED DOWN TIME as much as the ups.

The novel even went on to say that these lows allow us to be ready for God when God does act. For we mere humans can't keep up with Him. It is us that ultimately need the rest - not God. This got me even more excited. That night I found it hard to sleep - too excited now about the prospect of God acting again soon! Surely I must exasperate God at times.

During the quiet time, I was looking for God anywhere; emails, donations, invites to public speaking, even the website's statistics. Everything went quiet. I then felt I am putting my faith in man  made things not in God. I should be trusting and waiting for God. Then it happened, the impossible. The statistics for the website on the 27th of March, produced an algorithm that is almost impossible to repeat. Seven visitors, created seven hits and seven page impressions. 7777. A very quiet day for traffic but a very loud way of God saying "Don't trust in horses or chariots - trust In the name of the Lord your GOD" (Psalm 20:7).

That week I received a $2000 donation for the ministry and was invited to speak to a gathering of 640 people to share my testimony.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Learning - always learning

In the Gospels people often call Christ - Teacher. That's because that is part of His Role - teaching us how to be human. All week I had studied addictions, idolatry and counselling methods from a Christian perspective. I had read through and watched countless testimonies of ex addicts (chronically addicted, often in horrific circumstances) being released into freedom by Christ.

As I visited a particular addicted man in that very situation (Morphine, Marijuana, Nicotine) I realised that as I was studying how to care for the addicted; the Teacher (Christ), was giving me practical experience simultaneously. At first I hadn't even realised it, until today when I left him (spending about two hours together) it dawned on me that Christ was teaching me - powerfully. The theory I had been reading matched exactly to what was occurring, one particular book telling me to build relationship first then lovingly move to the next step of getting the addict to accept responsibility for his actions. Rather than blaming the world. Earlier on in the week that is exactly what he had been doing, blaming everyone for his situation other than himself.

Today we sat and after going for a meal (the Lord leading me to get him some food - addicts don't eat much) we sat and watched three amazing testimonies of ex bikers, hells angels and gang members coming to freedom in Christ. Men that this tattooed man could relate to, men that sinned more than he had. Yet they had found forgiveness. The Teacher guiding every step of the way. All week I had struggled in facing my own imperfections and the tendrils of addiction that still haunt those that have come through hell (or what felt like hell).

When you read about addictions (as an ex addict) it certainly makes you face yourself. Wanting another person freed can feel like an overwhelming burden, yet yourself can do nothing other than give testimony, point to Christ and pray. And then Let Christ do the work. Your own burden should actually be lite (Mt 11:28). 

Today a meeting was booked with a Christian Rehab centre and a detox centre (both to occur next week). Each has an eight week waiting list. You share the frustration of the addicted now willing to go, and then having to wait. (Hence you plan to open another rehab centre to share the burden). You are there to be a friend (a sober one), to pray, and to stand as an example of hope. If Christ could free me, he can free you.

Learning - always learning.

Christ be with you

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I have Got your back Covered

It had been a fairly difficult two weeks. The Lord had me come alongside a Morphine Addict. 38, covered in tattoos and I loved him. Straight away I felt for him and wanted him saved. Freed from the hellish existance the drugs had entrapped him in. He would listen carefully to me tell him about Jesus and how Jesus had set me free from drugs and that Jesus could do the same for him. Yet everytime I left He would stick another needle into his arm. I felt as if this man wont live much longer like this. It played heavy on my soul.

During it I wept, got frustrated and felt helpless. I prayed for him and further into the pit I seemed to be sliding. Yet the Lord didnt let me fall all the way into the pit of depression. Holding me firmly at its edge and strengthening me, he told me two words "wisdom experience". The burden of feeling another's soul in anguish but not getting dragged totally into their pit. Being strong enough through Jesus to get into the pit with them, then, climb out. With or without them. Real strength. Jesus' strength.

Along the way, at probably the lowest point, God decided I needed some encouragement. He sent me a photograph from Cambodia. The children had all recieved their brand new tshirts. Each one had the Harvest of Hope Logo on their back and God had pictures taken to show me. As i looked at the little ones and seeing God's continual provision and love for them I felt God say "See, Jack, you need not worry, I GOD have got their backs covered".

It picked me up and helped me to be stronger for the addict. Our God the God of encouragement, the God who has YOUR back covered.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

It is more blessed to give than to receive

Recently I felt the urge to share the blessings I was receiving with other ministries I knew about. One of which in the Philippines, House of Hope, the brother organisation to Harvest of Hope. The rehab centre in the Philippines operates humbly and the men there live by seeking God's provision in answer to prayer.

I had sat at home and prayed myself. I asked the Lord if I could send $1000 to the Philippine's ministry. I felt that $300 could go to the children they help (for they also operate a small school for impoverished children from nearby slums) and the remaining $700 to go to the men to take them out for a day. A blessing, for without funds taking 40 men out is a rarity. After the prayer, by faith, I decided to send the money and sent an email informing them about it and what the funds were for. I finished the email by stating this is From the Lord - not Jack. Something we can only state by faith. For when do we know or not know it is from the Lord but only by faith can we say so?

Within three hours I received an amazing email in return. The men stated that very morning they had prayed to the Lord asking for funds for their children's graduation and for taking the men out for their annual summer outing. All of which I knew nothing about. They praised God and knew instantly that the sending of the $1000 was a direct answer to the prayer. I myself also sat in amazement, for at that point you realise that the Lord Christ, through the Holy Spirit, had directed your hands, miraculously. The blessing is then shared for it is better to give than receive. For seeing God our faith increases and we marvel at His Love, compassion and guidance. The Living God - who acts in our lives.