Friday, 2 September 2011

Alpha Awakening 17/08/11

Karen from Kuala Lumpor, attended Alpha in 2008 at uni. It was arranged by the Catholic Society there. She was initially reluctant to go and wasn't sure about faith at all. She was about to leave the Church when she went to the course. Her friend had organised it and she was put on the committee so had no choice but to go. She loved the experience of sharing a meal together which is how each of the meetings started. There would then be a talk and then the best part, sharing. It was great to share with the group because she had a lot going on at the time. God really touched her through Alpha. God was there all along and she hadn't appreciated the little things that he had done in her life. She would tell people to go for it, restart your relationship with God through Alpha.

Alex from London said that 5 years ago he wouldn't have called himself a Christian and wasn't sure God was a part of his life. He said no to going to Alpha, and then finally after asking his friend also called Alex lots of questions about it, he went on the course. He went to one held in an Anglican Church and enjoyed the talks on Jesus. It all made more sense in his head but didn't feel anything in his heart. Then he went for the weekend away, he heard a talk n how to feel the Holy Spirit and then really wanted to know God but still didn't feel anything. He left the room disappointed, went to his room and wanted to experience the relationship with Jesus that the others had and prayed to know him. He was then filled with God's love and knew he was real and loved him for him. It was the first time that he felt secure.

Toby, an Anglican priest said that he was loving JMJ. He asked us: How secure do you feel? How safe do you feel in your future? He told us the story of an old lady in Florida who went to the supermarket, and when she got to her car 4 men were in it and about to drive away. She took out a gun from her bag, pointed it at them and said 'Get out of my car or I'll shoot you, you scumbags.' They ran away. She was really shaken up. Put the bags in the car and she couldn't start the ignition because she was shaking so much. Slowly she got out of the car and looked and 3 rows down was her car! She was so embarrased, went straight to the police and told them about it. They couldn't stop laughing and pointed down the counter to the 4 men who said they had their car stolen by a crazy granny.

So we are not always secure, nationally, politically or even personally in our relationships. We try to make ourselves more secure and sometimes this doesn't work. Three things we use to make ourselves secure are: fame, fortune and facebook. He then told us a story about the first of these, fame. He tried to be in a band, he went to the audition thinking that it was just a visual audition. He queued up, and at the end got a ticket and was told congratulations, so he thought he was in the band. However, he then had to do a vocal audition. He was not prepared at all and was then ushered into the audition room, and was told to sing the song he prepared. In that moment he couldn't remember a single song. Then he remembered 'Stand by Me'. He thought now don't start too high, so he started really low, and had to carry on. Eventually he was told they'd call him but they never did. We want to be famous and rich to fell secure but we don't really achieve this. Amy Winehouse is a really good example of this.

How can we find security? St Paul in his letter to the Ephesians said'pray you'll be rooted and established in love.' You need to have firm foundations. For firm faith in God you need:

1) Trust in the Word of God.
You can trust in the Word of the Father, more than anyone else. When you feel insecure say 'God loves me.' Remember Ps 139 'I am fearfully and wonderfully made.' Also Isaiah 49 'He has written my name on his hand.' Also Jer 29:11 'I know the plans I have for you...' When the words of others make you feel insecure look to the Word of God. He is for you, he loves you, and is with you.

2) Trust the work of the Son.
This is the work of Jesus on the Cross. Toby told us that his father was a physics teacher and Toby was terrible at it. He would hate having to show his Dad his report, and everytime would hope that he had a good mark. Sometimes we feel like that with God.  If I do everything I can, maybe then God will love me. We're trusting in the work of ourselves not the messgae of Christianity or the Church. It doesn't depend on our work, but that of Jesus. Jesus got perfect results on his report cards. He swapped them with ours, so that when God calls us to him and we wonder about the result, we take out Jesus' card and God tells us well done, I accept you. We are totally forgiven and loved because of Jesus. If we want to trust in Jesus we need to take that leap of faith.

3) Trust the witness of the Spirit.
Toby told us, that he never goes to the gym. His brother went once and chose the wrong one. He chose a man's gym with huge men lifting huge weights. His brother was skinny and tried the smallest weight, did one and couldn't lift anymore. One of the big guys came over to him and said, 'You've not done this before have you?' His brother said no and asked if he could help him. The big guy said that they needed to build up his core strength. If you try and lift weights without any core strength, you can't do it. If you don't have core spiritual strength then you can't do it in hard times. The Holy Spirit gives us that strength. We don't need to get him in because he's already there, but St Paul says he needs to be filled again and again. The Holy Spirit gives us power. He lives in us like a flame, be filled and he'll give you the power and strength to live for Jesus.

So we need to look to God when we feel insecure.

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