Sunday, September 16, 2007

You Go, Boys!

I just spent the weekend in North Carolina leading at a youth retreat near Asheville (at Ridgecrest for those of you who are familiar with the area). As an extension of my summer camp job, we have a few events in the fall that are much smaller and more personal for groups to come and really dig in fast to the Word and God's heart for a little less than 2 days. Our speaker for this retreat was Stuart Hall, whom I pray you all get the chance to hear at some point in your life. He goes so deep so fast, that blinking or breathing in the wrong place can get you behind in a flash. Good stuff. During the last service this morning Stuart spoke from Acts 4, and it just hit me in the best way, so I wanted to share. I am not a speaker or writer and don't claim to bear with the randomness that comes out of my head. :)

Acts 4:23-31
"On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God, "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

" 'Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the Lord
and against his Anointed One.' (Ps. 2:1-2)

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders throughout the name of your holy servant Jesus."
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."

Just as a little background info, right before this, Peter and John (and the other apostles) were "teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead" (4:2) and the priest and Sadducees (who were Sad-You-See....HAHA...always loved that joke) came to put and end to their teaching. So, they commanded them "not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus" (4:18).
Their response to these leaders who more or less promised severe punishment?--
"We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." (4:20)

--When is the last time that this was your (or my) response when you faced any sort of serious adversity for sharing your faith? These men KNEW the consequences that were promised to them by these leaders for proclaiming Christ, and they looked them straight in the eye and with OVERFLOWING hearts, COULD NOT CONTAIN their excitement and joy about their Savior. What in the world, I want those kind of guts for the Lord!

When they returned to their people to tell of their encounter with the leaders, their response was a prayer:
1) to a "Sovereign Lord"...they recognized immediately that God had a plan for them. He KNOWS all.
*v.28--"they did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen" God knew before they were opposed that the leaders would rise up against them...and they DID. But, Peter and John recognized this not as a road block to stop them, but as a part of His plan.
*He made everything--earth, heaven, sea (and EVERYTHING IN them)--He KNOWS about His creation
2)they remembered what was proclaimed in the Old Testament spoken by the Holy Spirit through David as he wrote that the kings and rulers would gather against the Lord and against his Anointed One (Ps 2) (and they did)
3)and KNOWING that the one thing they could be KILLED for was speaking out about Christ, they PRAYED FOR BOLDNESS to SPEAK to them!!!!
*Boldness--is courage, when you have something to LOSE. These leaders were people that they would have to be in contact with day in and day out that could significantly alter their lives, even to the point of death. Yet they stared the problem in the face and asked for courage to face it head on because they COULD NOT HELP but talk about what Christ had done for them.

I wonder when the last time was for you and I, that we risked something for our faith? That we put a relationship, or a reputation, or a job, or a bank account on the line for what we believed in. Not because it was the "right" thing to do...or the "Christian" thing to do. But because we were so filled by what Christ has done for us that we were honored to lose it all to spread His name. His glory. His love. His mercy. His grace. His freedom. And His heart's desire. Who in our lives do we know needs to be held accountable for something--needs to be called-out in LOVE (not, pride)--and have truth spoken over them in an area we know isn't surrendered to Christ? We all have those people in our lives--friends, CLOSE friends, and family members--people whose opinions matter to us...whose souls should matter more...that need to know the Love which could be theirs.

*Is He worth it to us?
*Is the experience that we have had with Him enough to want to share?
*Is our gratitude of Christ's presence in our own lives being kept silent in an effort to guarantee our place in His heart in case someone else tries to pass us in the race?
*Do we TRULY have a Godly jealousy for others to know and experience what we have, or have we pridefully attempted to mold our salvation into something we were able to accept and obtain on our own, and so, become stagnant...forgetting that it has nothing to do with the particles of dust that we are, and everything to do with the Saving God that HE is.
*Would we be gutsy enough to pray for BOLDNESS, when it most matters, and the most dear parts of our lives are at stake?
*What have we got to lose? Everything. But all of "everything" is NOTHING compared to what we have gained in CHRIST, who IS our EVERYTHING.


Lindsee said...

Oh girl, I LOVE stuart hall. He can bring it. He did my camp senior year for a whole week, I still refer back to those notes!

And as for all those questions at the end. Ummm yeah, I'm gonna have to pray about that.

I also have to remind myself daily that I have NOTHING to loose. Oh, oh!

Glad your weekend was good.

Abby, I seriously can't wait for August. I better meet you girls! :)


Amy said...

Thanks for sharing this....i like how you are able to minister to folks through your blog.... were in asheville?!?!? why did you call me crazy lady!?!?

anywho....hope all is well....peace out!

Jackie said...

This was good for me today. Thanks for sharing. Glad it was a great weekend- God is good!! Have a wonderful week.

Joni said...

Came across your blog. Thank you for sharing from your notes. Good questions at the end. I was a people-pleaser from way back, but I've come to the same conclusion as Paul in Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ and Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by FAITH in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." I am free from the tyranny of the approval of others as long as I abide in Jesus' love for me.