Sunday, November 27, 2011

You Are More - Hillsong Live

I have GOOD NEWS to share!
Good News #1
Back in April, I wrote a blog about my time at Easter Camp with Ignite Sport. I wrote about four girls that God led me to pray with. Two of those girls signed up for soccer at Naenae College, and I got to coach them for 3 months.
Last night, I went to a church service where one of them was baptized! It was beautiful.
The Good News? God desires to be in relationship with us! Praise God!

Good News #2
I have told you about Jo and Isaac, but I’m not sure that I’ve told you about Rob. He is Isaac’s dad, and a regular attendee of our small group. One day at church we had this conversation:
Rob: Pua, I want to quit smoking.
Pua: Ok Rob, Let’s pray about it.
Rob: That’s ok, I guess.
Pua: God, I know that you desire wholeness and healing for Rob’s body. In the past, Rob has been addicted to nicotine. In the name of Jesus, we break Rob’s addiction to nicotine. I ask that you would restore his body to full health, and I pray that Rob’s desire for cigarettes would disappear.
Rob had been a smoker for over 20 years. It’s been 4 months since that day in church, and he hasn’t smoked, nor has he had a desire to smoke, since we prayed together!
The Good News? God breaks addictions! Praise God!
Good News #3
Since I danced at a church concert in September, I have had pain in my lower back. It felt like a nerve was pinched, and there would be moments when I would bend down and my whole leg would collapse from the sudden sharp, severe pain. It was occasional at first, but a few weeks ago I began to be in regular pain. The pain then spread to my left side, and I would be in pain every morning when I woke  up.
Two weeks ago at church, Derek (a leader at the church) was leading the service. He got to the church very early and rearranged all the seats, putting some pews backwards and forming 5 stations of prayer. I was a greeter that morning, and I LOVED seeing people’s reactions as they walked in. Not many people were impressed with the new arrangement. Several would walk in, stop mid-step, and scowl. Then they would look around awkwardly and find a seat near the back of the church.

Derek, however, had rearranged the seats for a purpose. Once people were settled in the church he asked, “How many of you expect God to do something new on a Sunday morning? Do you come to church with exciting expectations that new things will happen, or do you come to church out of routine?”

Good Question.

Derek explained that we would not be having a usual service, but that the time set aside for preaching would be used for the prayer stations.
As I entered the first prayer station, I knelt down and was keenly aware of the pain in my lower back. I thought back to the time when the pain started- the night I danced at the church concert. God brought to mind the title of the song- “Cripple Me”
A line from the chorus of the song is, “please cripple me, so I cannot keep running away”
I had danced it as a prayer to God, but I was reminded as I knelt in pain the power of those words. Was I in pain because I had prayed to be crippled?
I decided then and there to break any agreement I had made to be crippled. I prayed, “God, I do not desire to be crippled. I desire wholeness and health. I break any agreement I made with the song “cripple me” and I ask for your Spirit to come heal my lower back.”
I stood up and there was no pain in my back, and I haven’t had any pain in my back since that Sunday.

The Good News? God is a Healer! Praise God!
Good News #4This is painful news, yet also good news. In exactly three weeks, I will be flying on a plane from Wellington to Australia, and then from Australia to Los Angeles.
I am coming home.
God has orchestrated a fantastic year- where I have wept and rejoiced and been given much. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. I can’t wait to see what HE HAS IN STORE for the next 21 days! (and I can't wait to hug my family when I get home!)
The Good News? God is able to do above and beyond all that we can hope or imagine. God is for us, and not against us! God is able!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Glorious - Christy Nockels

The sun is warm and the breeze is constant. It’s a beautiful spring morning in New Zealand, and experience tells me that it’s a perfect day for laundry! So that is what I’m doing, sitting on the back porch, preparing for youth group, and hanging/taking down our washing.
I’ve sat down to start writing an update four times since my last one, but I could never find words to really tell you what’s going on. I still don’t know if I have the words, but it’s been almost a month, so here I am, writing you an update.
Thank you for your faithfulness in reading my blogs. I’ve felt you all celebrating with me when I’m happy and sympathizing when I’ve been sad. I can’t tell you how significant your support and encouragement has been for me and my time in New Zealand.
Youth Group
We are entering the last term of the school year, and our focus for our students is Worship: a lifestyle, not just singing in church. We will conclude the term with a weekend camp. What do you do with students who can’t afford an expensive camp? You camp out in the backyard! We are meeting tonight to finalize our weekend schedule. I’m so excited!
Ignite Sport
We just returned from a trip to Hastings (on the right side of New Zealand’s northern island) to debrief our camp with the Porirua boys and help set up a branch of Ignite in the Hastings area. The couple who plan to head this new branch are Vicki and Craig McDougall. Please pray for them and their family. They are magnificently passionate about Jesus and the work of Ignite Sport. I love them!
Liz and I traveled to Auckland for 5 days so I could see the big city and also meet some of my extended Samoan family. My conclusion? I love my extended family, and I am so glad that I live in Wellington, not Auckland. I mean, I loved my time in Auckland, and I felt so taken care of by Jesus while we were there (from parking spots to great food, from great experiences to learning more about God) but I prefer the weather and atmosphere of Wellington.
Gabrielle and Liz and I took a trip through the Rimutaka Ranges to visit Masterton. While we were there, we came upon a Technical Tree Climbing/Rescue Competition. I didn’t even know anything like that existed. (be honest, you didn’t either) so that was fun to watch!
I am hoping to get to the south island one more time before I leave New Zealand, but I’m just trusting my schedule to God, knowing that he has the best schedule for me.
God is really challenging me and teaching me a lot about myself and my fears and a lot about His kingdom and His heart for me. Recently God has been teaching me about the American culture, and how things I grew up thinking were Truth were actually Cultural Values, not Truths of God’s Kingdom. This has been really challenging, as I analyze things like how I spend my money, the clothing I wear, the food I eat, the way I want to use my future house/space/talents/passions for God and for others. I guess to sum up what I’ve been learning: It’s not just about living simply; it’s about living generously.
If that means buying fair trade bananas and cocoa and clothing instead of the cheaper/easier choices, then so be it.
If that means giving away my possessions and wardrobe and jewelry, why not?
If that means spontaneously buying dinner for all my friends, even though it means I won’t be able to afford lunch tomorrow, then that’s ok too.
I’m discovering deep freedom and deep joy as I seek to surrender everything to Jesus (and give it to anyone who needs it) and be released from my attachments to my possessions.
If I’m honest with you, I’m not very good at doing this. I’m kind of hoping it gets easier. Here’s what frequently happens:
 Jesus invites me to give away X
I hesitate, and then think of all the reasons why living without X would be hard
I bargain for X, suggesting that I could give away Y instead.
Then I’m reminded of this simple sentence:
If you’re still measuring out your offerings, you haven’t seen His worth.  –Klaus
Then I’m struck by what Christ has surrendered for me, overcome by his worthiness, and sorry for my greed.
So I finally surrender X, trusting that God knows what is better than I do.
And sometimes I’m sad, sometimes I’m a bit annoyed, but you know what? A week later, I’m thanking Jesus for the way X blessed someone else, and I’m feeling freedom and joy at being obedient and living generously.
So, that’s my update! I am loving life in New Zealand, and I am also eager to get home to my friends and family. God is good, all the time, and I sit in amazement frequently about the gift He’s given to me.  Love to you all!