Awesome 2011

I had the privilege to lead on our churches youth camp for the first time. It was so different seeing how things worked behind the scenes but it was so rewarding to serve the youth in a way that the leaders had served me on the past. Leon Stead preached through Philippians over the 5 days, here’s a quick reflection on what I got out of it.

Day 1: Philippians 1:1-11

We’re all in this together, as a church following Christ we are in partnership in a shared passion. The world tells us that we need to invest ourselves in a passion that is about us but God’s intended us to be part of something that’s not about us. Our passions are reflected in where we invest our time, money, energy etc. Often we fear that we won’t succeed in our passion but what’s really important should be a fear of succeeding in something that doesn’t matter.

  • I was really challenged in this talk to make sure I’m investing my life in things that matter, not self fulfilling things but God glorifying things.

Day 2 – Philippians 1:12-30

Common-Unity for all in Christ. Unity is being like-minded, one in spirit and purpose and having the same love for one another – following Christs selfless example. Knowing what it looks like isn’t the problem, it’s living it. Living it means we have to put aside all our selfish ambitions and put Christ at the centre of ourselves, to look out for each other instead of ourselves. In all situations: conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel. This kind of community in the church shines in the darkness of the world and brings freedom from conflict and deepens relationships.

  • I was challenged to let go of protecting my reputation or self and instead look to how I can look out for other people’s needs.

Day 3 – Philippians 3:1-11

You don’t need to do anything to belong to God. Paul, who wrote the letter, was once the equivalent of a Pharisee, he followed all the rules laid down and even persecuted Christians who said that these rules didn’t matter anymore. But then when he himself was converted, everything he one held as his highest achievements became a loss, and what he once saw a loss he valued highly. Not only was his life redirected, but everything he believed in was inverted. Holding onto our lives outside of Christ is like sitting in our own excrement and being content – being called as a follower means through sanctification, we are to leave these things behind. We contribute nothing to our relationship with God, it is all through Christ.

  • I was challenged to review what I valued most in life and to replace it with Christ.

Day 4 – Philippians 3:12-4:1

Live life in light of the destination, have a single minded goal. Forget what you’ve left behind – the sin you were entangled in, repent and give it to God. Follow Christ’s model, don’t go back and live up to what you’ve attained. Jesus is sufficient, we’re not perfect yet (we will be in Christ) but we have a joy and hope.

  • I was challenged to work hard at keeping Christ’s coming in my mind, rather than my own constructed destinations.

Day 5 – Philippians 4:2-23

Confidence in Christ, a contentment that brings joy, a joy that is external to yourself. If it was only within yourself it would never satisfy but in Christ, it is everlasting. This joy is manifest in gentleness, the self sacrificial demonstration of love to other people.

Living for Christ is not just about controlling your behaviour it is about controlling your mind and heart, your desires, to bring the things in the front of your mind to God.

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

One Life. Don’t Waste It.

Last night I was at the Entertainment Centre in Sydney with 10, 000 other people getting my world turned upside down by God’s word. Before I reflect, I recommend that if you missed out and have $4 to spare that you go here and buy the mp3 of the talks so your perception of life and purpose can be radically challenged too. Otherwise, continue reading.

Piper began his talk with Luke 13:1-5…

“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Saloam fell on them – do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will perish.”

Now in the place of those tragedies, place a more recent tragedy, say a tsunami or 9/11. These people are asking Jesus, why do these people suffer or die in these unjust ways? What did they do to deserve this? It’s the classic cry out to God when there’s pain. If there was a God, and he cared, why is there this suffering?

Then Piper turned it around, why don’t we thank God for everything good? Why do we only seem to recognise his presence when stuff goes wrong. Now look at Jesus’ answer to their cry: “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Think of it this way, we’ve rejected the divine creator, and since our God is just, that means we deserve no less than hell.  So really, God can do us no wrong. We shouldn’t assume a suffering free life, but rather the opposite. Every moment, every breathe is a blessing, a blessing we don’t deserve. So if you flip it, be grateful it wasn’t you in that tragedy, it could’ve been, but you’ve been given more time. If you can’t even assume your next breathe, how do you make the most of the time you have?

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”  James 4:14

You get one chance, one life and then judgement. It’s that final. You need to feel and consider the weight of the choice. Jesus has said “Unless you repent, you too will perish”. The unwasted life is the repented life. It’s the life that sees that God has made a way out through Jesus and so puts Jesus on display in everything that you do.

When you look around, the general understanding of the unwasted life seems to be: the accumulation of stuff. But will that stuff comfort you on your deathbed? Or would you feel more confident in death if you knew that the suffering of this world was gone and you have done what you can to make your life contribute to the glory of the new life you are entering into.

“Only one life, it will soon be past.
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Christians have this weird way of seeing life and death:

“I eagerly expect and hope that i will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life, or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.”

Philippians 1:20-21

The unwasted life (and death) is one that is the telescope for others to see God through. The fact of the matter is, you can’t ignore God and be ok. It’s such a final decision, there’s no fence sitting, it’s an acceptance or a rejection. You don’t want to get to heaven and think “If I knew it was going to be like this, I would’ve invested more.”

If life and death are given to us as a means of displaying the supreme value of Jesus,  Why do Christians still suffer? Why doesn’t God bless them in every way so that everyone can see that being a follower of Christ means a better life? Check this out:

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong”
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Our weaknesses as well as our blessings are a means to glorify God. To show contentment in trial, persecution, difficulties because we know that this is only for this short life, is more of a testament of Christ’s power than if our lives were perfection.

I’ll leave it there for now. At the conference they encouraged us to share our resolutions, in light of a message this radical, one needs to reflect on the changes they should make in their lives. To help out here is a website where they can suggest some resolutions or you can add your own and they email you a reminder to see how you’re going.