VOX magazine is LIVE from Sligo this week at the New Wine Ireland Sligo Summer Conference. Visit the LIVE Blog for regular photos and updates throughout the day. Experience the action as it happens! #sligo14
Wednesday 9 July
09.10 Good morning! It is a beautiful morning in Sligo. Morning prayer today focused around Psalm 75 :1 "We give thanks to you oh Lord, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds."
09.41 Praying for Munster this morning and hearing inspiring stories of what God is doing in County Cork.
10.06 David Parker leads the morning Bible teaching.
This morning we are talking about commitment. Increasingly, people are commitment-phobic. Adolescence used to start at 13 and end at 16 / 17 but now it starts at 10 and ends at 40! People don't want to grow up.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages us to back up long before they reach the point of breaking the basic commandments. Don't wait 'til your hands are around someone's neck to remember the command "do not murder."
Then Jesus moves on to the vows that we make and He says, "Let your yes be yes and your no be no." This is the essence of entering commitment.
People’s identity is not formed by external factors of race, background or environment. Fundamentally a person’s identity is shaped and built by their commitments.
- Commitments need to be open-eyed, not based on fantasy. Too often people are committing to what they imagine rather than what is.
- We enter into commitments “will-driven” not "will-surrendered". It is a choice. Jesus prays, "Not my will but yours." That is healthy commitment.
- Our commitments must be God-directed. Our commitment to God should reinforce our other commitments.
- Our commitments need to be iron-gripped. Take hold and don't let go because that is the way God is committed to us.
God who has an iron grip on your life… wants to help you to create the true identity you have as a child of God. Read the summary of this message here.
11.08 Ministry time at the Arena. With no seminars or workshops today, the blog with be "quiet" this afternoon. See you this evening at 7pm!
18.52 Welcome back! Final preparations are underway for this evening's celebration. There is an unusual (and rather lovely) hush over the Arena… but that will change soon as everyone starts to arrive!
19.30 Craig Cooney: We’ve got things the wrong way round when we start inside the church. If we take it into the community, God starts to do things in the church. We didn’t see healing in the church until we took healing out onto the streets. As we give it away, God gives it back to us. Reading Isaiah 35: 1 - 10.
19.56 Worshipping together… "Let me walk upon the waters wherever you may call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger...
20.13 Ready to hear Alain Emerson from 24/7 Prayer Ireland and Emmanuel Church, Lurgan speaking tonight.
There is a new song rising in our land - a song of hope that comes from the King of Kings. This nation has been let down by politics, economics and even the church.
My story is a story of hope but I want to be honest tonight about the pain!
Proverb 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
In the kingdom of God, every single story finds meaning. When I was in my 20s, I was young and idealistic. I fell in love with Lindsay and we got married. The year after we got married we decided to take a team to Uganda and went to a Fields of Life project. We had 40 people in that team. We built accommodation for teachers and started to send money and our hearts entwined with the project.
But when we got back home Lindsay started to have head aches. Eventually she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She underwent surgery but her condition deteriorated. After chemo and radiation she was bed-ridden and unable to do anything for herself. I fasted and prayed for her healing… but eventually she died.
I was thrust into the most intense pain you could ever imagine. I thought I was going to die. It tore me up inside.
What do you need in the dark night of your soul?
- We need permission to be honest - I felt such anger and a sense of injustice. It was difficult to tell God how I felt. I found comfort in the Psalms when I started to be honest. The only way to deal with our darkness is to face it and to walk right through it.
- Allow that honesty to be a prayer - my prayer life became very different.
- God was present in my pain and suffering - God is with us and He is the only one who understands. He is the wounded healer. He walks with us in our pain.
- Sometimes you just have to choose to believe, when you don’t feel like it. It is called faith. Raw faith has to kick in.
- Believe in the character of God and seek to recognise it - this happened to me after days and months of journeying through it. Even though I still had questions, I said, “Help me to see you in this.” Slowly I began to see things from a grace perspective.
- I learnt to embrace the mystery - I still had questions. I still don’t know why. Let your heart be the primary place of connection with God, not your head.
When we give God the deepest pain of our lives, He takes it and does something beautiful with it. For some of us, we are wrestling with God like Jacob. Don't let go. It is going to be sore! But don't let go until you receive a blessing.
God is the restorer of hope. I have a wife called Rachel… I met her about five years after Lindsay died. We have two children. And God is making all things beautiful in His time. Read the full message here.