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Live a life Worthy, Kings Fellowship May 2012

June 14, 2012

May 2012 was an action packed month, we moved house, there was a lot of work in Church and on Street Pastors to keep moving on.  Friends also moved house to Edinburgh and another friend passed away… and in the midst of this I had another opportunity to share with my firend at Kings Fellowship… and these are my rough notes and slides for this preach (the audio of the talk can be found here).


I’m going to start today by introducing you to a game that I’d like us to participate in this morning… it’s called “The game of minutes”…

it comes from the writing of Frank C. Laubach… have any of you heard of it?

Let me try to explain what it’s about…

The aim of the game is to develop an inseparable relationship with God by trying to call Him to mind for at least one second of every minute.

So for at least one second in every minute we aim to focus on God.

You ‘Win’ a minute when you focus on God by…

  • praying
  • recall God – bring Him center stage of your attention..
  • Sing/worship Him
  • Talk or write something about Him
  • Be conscious of Gods presence
  • Whisper something to Him – Breath Prayer to God… Yaweh..
  • offer up prayer for someone…
  • Feel yourself encompassed, wrapped up in God
  • Read a scripture verse
  • Share in the suffering of others
  • Follow the leading of the spirit
  • Hear God and see Him in people or Nature

In doing this we don’t need to forget other things nor stop what we’re doing, but we invite Him to share everything we do, or say, or think.

You might be thinking that it’ll be hard to concentrate on the talk… well concentration is our ability to bring back into focus what we are doing, this game is to demonstrate that you can be here listening & engaging with the talk this morning… and also grow in awareness of the presence of God.

In effect we will be what Brother Laurence described as Practicing the presence of God.

Frank Laubach described this spiritual exercise as a “game” because he found it to be a delightful, playful experience of relating to God, and I hope that it’ll be fun and rewarding to you.

Heather introduced this to me this week and it relates to what I would like to share with you this morning… So are you up for a game?

Ok… here’s what I’d like us to do… for the remainder of this talk keep a count of every minute that you ‘win’ in the game.  if you have paper and a pen keep a tally of these minutes.

Is everybody ready… then let the game begin…

I don’t know how life has been for you in the past couple of weeks, but I know that for myself things have been kinda weird and pressured.  There’s a lot of stuff happening, people and expectations being moved and shaken.

From listening to many folks here I gather my experience is not unique… many of us are feeling it… and it doesn’t feel a comfortable place to be in.

When times seem uncertain and unsure we can easily be tempted to start to look for security and start to ‘baton down the hatches’..

In Brennan Mannings book “Abba’s Child” he refers to part of our ‘old’ selves he calls “The Impostor” – I expect that in the language of King James Bible, this would be ‘the flesh’ – The Impostor seeks to manufacture security through presenting  a false image of oneself.

This Impostor will suppress or camouflage our true feelings in order to gain acceptance and approval, keeping us fearful of not living up to others expectations.

The impostor also tries and control and manipulate situations to ensure that his security is protected.  Insensitive to the moods, needs and dreams of others.

The impostor is a liar – telling others we’re ok when we really are not.  Keeping us closed off from Jesus, and from each other.

The ‘life’, such as it is, grown by allowing the impostor to reign is empty, shallow and diminished.  It is not the full, complete, wholeness of life that we are called to in Christ Jesus.

Today I will be sharing some thoughts on living in the life Christ Jesus calls us to, and we will be referring to passages in Ephesians and Colossians 1:9-14…

HOW ARE YOU DOING WITH THE GAME??!

Earlier this year I was going through Ephesians as part of my daily readings and a phrase from start of Chapter 4 has been on my mind almost every day since.

“Therefore I… beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by GOD.”

“to lead a life worthy”.

This could be seen as a very intimidating statement… “to lead a life worthy”, but I don’t think that it should be intimidating, and so as we look at  unpacking what it means to “live a life worthy” it is my hope that you will find it inspiring and challenging.

There are three parts to leading a life worthy that I’d like to look at this morning…

The first of these is the foundation of such a life, where we are to start from…

Ephesians 4:1 starts with the word ‘Therefore’ and this links leading a life worthy with what was written previously… so we need to look back into the previous chapter, chapter 3:

In chapter 3 Paul shares Gods plan – that both Gentiles (us) and Jews who believe the Good news share an inheritance as Gods own Children…

We have been adopted into God’s family… we belong… we have our security in that fact. We can be confident in that plan.  In relationship with God.

The chapter finishes with a prayer for spiritual growth… saying… from vs 16

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

and then it goes into Chapter 4…

Therefore I… beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.

so…

The foundations of living a life worthy…

He has accepted us into his family: we have acceptance and security in this place.

He is the Source: His glorious, unlimited resources -> empower you with inner strength.

Imagine an energy comparison website, or some kind of compare the market.com style site that offered as one of the options the unlimited resources of God… what would it look like.. it would be free, it would be eternal, no catches… it would be the number one recommendation for every question we could ask… so why choose anything else.

He is Close, and available: Christ makes his home in you heart… as you trust him

Jesus is not distant, he is close to you. (tick off a minute in the game here!) And we are to embrace him, to grow roots into God’s Love… what do roots do… they draw the water and nutrients into the plant and they keep the plant secure…

Our Knowing: the power to understand the extent of Gods love, and our experience of that love.

Then… made complete with all fullness of life and power that comes from God.

As Paul prayed this for the Ephesians I believe that he was also praying this prophetically over us here, now…

Who wants to be empowered with inner strength though his Spirit?  I certainly do…

Who wants to be at home with Christ, with roots deep in his love – sustaining and securing us?

Who wants to know the depth, height, width of Gods love for you?

These are what is promised to those who come into his Family in Christ.

This foundation is a free gift… a place we can grow on.

Before we head on to the next part of living a life worthy… how are you getting on with the Game of Minutes… have you been able to give focus to God in the minutes… yes/no… keep on going… take a moment now to thank him for his strength, for his love for you, for bringing you into his family… (SILENCE FOR 30 SECS) and this brings us to…

The next characteristic of living a life worthy…

An Inward Journey…

the inward journey is  concerned with growing closer to God himself… waiting on Him… there is a purpose for us playing the game of minutes this morning… it is my hope that you will experience the presence and person of God talking, available to you… directly.

Thom shared that the name of God Yaweh, could be expressed in a breath… ya weh… breathing in and out the name of God.  And that is the essence of this inward journey, our breathing becomes a prayer of worship, a calling of His name…

in Colossians 1:9-14 Paul writes…

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.

In the inward journey your moment by moment relationship with God fills you with knowledge of his will… wisdom and understanding… released through his Spirit in communion with you.

Madame Guyon talks about coming to God in this way…

She describes a place, a posture in this relationship…

Beyond our prayers and petitions… our lists of requests…

Beyond being still before him… and simple awareness of Him…

To a place where there is being with him just because it pleases him…

{and this is why I think Frank Lauhach calls this game a delight… because it is is pleasure… his pleasure to be with you moment by moment}

and if He chooses to reveal something to you or blessing then receive it…

and if not… if our minds wander, or if it is difficult… then receive that gift…

then continue to joyfully accept whatever he desires to give in that moment.

To believe by faith that whatever happens is His desire for you at that time.

So how is your game of minutes going… are you catching him in the moments… experiencing his presence and learning more of His love for you…

The result of this deepening relationship is that we will be strengthened with all power, according to his might, so that you may have endurance and patience.

This deep rooted relationship is only part of the picture though… there is further purpose for this depth…

Heather & I have been watching the complete West Wing series since Christmas, and last week we were watching one of the extras on the DVD.  In it one of the advisors to the show described something she had observed with a president she worked for.

DVD clip…She said this “a modern president who is a ‘natural’, will almost breathe in the presidency, breathe it in, straighten out his shoulders and walk forward and whatever reality he walks into he is bringing the presidency with him”… “but when he breathes it in, and brings it in…

I don’t know what your views are about America…  But what about something much more powerful and eternal… what about the Kingdom of Heaven… what about taking our citizenship of the kingdom with as much gravitas.

The relationship we form in our inward journey breathes in Christ – we become immersed, overwhelmed filled up with and in Him, transformed into His likeness –  we cannot do this lightly…

And we are prepared to walk forward… bringing Christ with us, bringing the Kingdom within us into whatever reality we walk into.

And this brings us to the third aspect of a living a life worthy… the

Outward Journey…

In John’s gospel Jesus tells us that he could only do what he saw the Father doing…

and therefore growing in deep relationship with Him we are released into his purpose, His commission to us… To be Him to those we are in contact with here.

Being in Him, being deep in him we can step forward into our daily reality.

The outward journey is characterized by what we do in relation to others…

And there are two things to look for in a life lived worthily… the first of these concerned unity in the family of Christ.

back in Eph 4:2-4, Paul exhorts us to…

Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

The attributes we display in relating to each other are humility & gentleness, patience, unity, self control, in peace… the beatitudes personified.

I also like the way this is paraphrased in the Message…

Here’s what I [Paul] want you to do… I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

Pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love… wow!

So one of the outward signs of a life lived in a way that pleases God are acts of love and unity within and between those who love him.

A church I was part of in Belfast used to go on Summer Holidays together… all of us.  150-200 people would go to the Halls of residence at a University and live, laugh, and worship together for a couple of weeks during the summer.

One year we were at St Andrews and some of us went site seeing… and ended up at Glamis Castle, and some of us went for a coffee.

At the table I was at where three girls and three blokes – I should point out that the church had a fab +ve culture of singleness and there were no ‘couples’ at the table – just brothers and sisters enjoying each others company.

I noticed one of the guys (Steve) helpfully holding a chair for one of the girls and felt prompted to follow his lead.

As the break went on somehow we seemed to encourage each other on to display acts of care and respect for the ladies with us… I was humbled.  I knew we had blessed the girls and that they had felt specially treated – and I believe that it was God prompting Steve and myself.

Years later Steve came to a party my best man held for friends before I married Heather.  He started to share about how he remembered the time at Glamis Castle… He said that he saw me being courteous and followed my example…  and I’m sure it was the other way round.

God calls out the best of us, and uses those around us that we love and trust to draw out even more of his character.  On that day at Glamis I am sure I experienced Christ working in myself and Steve, drawing out Jesus Loving, caring nature to those we were with.

And closer to home – David and Tjits mentioned to me just how much they appreciated the support, care and practical help that many folks from here have shown them in their move to Edinburgh…  demonstrating the Love of God for His Children in a practical, personal way.

There is a second path for us to travel on this outward journey as well…

and that is to reach out to those who don’t know Jesus as we do…

Brennan Manning had a powerful experience of the personal love of Jesus Christ for him while meditating on the Cross.

His description: “At that moment the entire Christian life became for me an intimate, heartfelt relationship with Jesus”…

This experience sealed the call of God on his life.

After attending seminary both as a student and instructor he took a leave of absence from his order and moved to spain where he lived with an order committed to an uncloistered lifes among the poor – a lifestyle of days spent in manual labour and nights of silent prayer. He worked as a water carrier, transporting water to local villages via donkey; a masons assistant, shoveling mud and straw in the spanish heat; a dishwasher; a voluntary prisoner in a Swiss jail… and more…

The intimate relationship that he experienced brought Brennan to a place that echos Matthew 25, vs34-40

“the King will say, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Brennan Manning was able to pour himself out in acts of love for the people Jesus loves… and for those who don’t know him yet…

and I find his example inspiring… not just for the great love he was able to show but also in his humility in dealing with his own frail humanity… he had problems with alcohol, and the trappings of success were just that for him… traps.

But that intimate loving relationship with Jesus kept drawing him back…

Closer to home again – I have the privilege of working alongside some really special people both here at Kings and in Street Pastors.

People dedicated to being Citizens of Heaven, ambassadors of Jesus to those in our local community, on the streets of our city.

Our friend Michael Dillon was definitely one of those,  and I personally will miss the inspiration of being around someone who so obviously and clearly Lived a life worthy of his call.

These people are precious – People who carry the person of Christ, that living water to those who are thirsty.

And I know that there are more carrying this gift.

Each of you, in your workplace, in your home, with your friends, at the football match, in the supermarket are carrying Christ into these realities…

Conclusion…

And the Living a life worthy is one of Integrity – honesty in our relationship with God, honesty in our relationship with others, honesty in relating to ourselves.

It is a life of balance… a life of both the inward journey into the depth of transforming relationship with Jesus, and an outward journey of expressing Love to each other…. all growing from the deep rooted foundation of the Love of God for us all.

So how are you getting on with the game of minutes…

Has God been present with you…

Has he whispered sweet nothings in your ear…

Has He spoken to you… words of love…

Has He called for you to act on the outward journey…

Has he ministered to you this morning.

Would anyone like to share their score during this time?

Do you think you could play this game again tomorrow – taking an hour to look for God in each minute?  And maybe the next day? and the next…  And the following week taking 2 hours to play the game in each day…

If you do please let me know that you’re trying it out… I’d love to know how you’re getting on.

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