The Power of love

by | Jan 28, 2014

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God knows how to get your attention. Yesterday morning as I sat down to prepare my message for Sunday service my mind was swirling with different thoughts and sermon fragments. I was not entirely sure which direction I should go to communicate a theme which was bubbling up in my heart. Then something really unusual happened. The unusual is something to pay attention to. I have learnt that often if we stop and inquire we can find God’s voice hidden in the unusual. I was praying when I heart a rustling and a fluttering sound coming from the rafters above me. I looked up and I saw that a bird was trapped in our house. I love birds. When it came closer and I discovered the identity of my avian invader I realized that this no mere coincidence. I was amazed to see that the bird was actually a African Pygmy Kingfisher. Of all the species of birds that it could have been there is none which has greater significance to me and our church. A few years ago I had two significant God moments involving Kingfishers. In the first I was preparing a message for a conference in Marondera, Zimbabwe when a Brown hooded Kingfisher smashed into the glass window next to me and died. Out of that came a message entitled “the Day of the Kingfisher is over” in which The Lord showed me that the time of the one man ministry ( a King fisher) where there are only a few people empowered to move in signs wonders and miracles is over. God is wanting to raise the whole church to move in Power. A few months later Debbie was walking out of a final prenatal check up with our Gynecologist when another Kingfisher smashed into the glass door of the hospital right next to her. God spoke to us again, expanding on the previous theme and said ” The Day of the Kingfisher is over and Mystery is about to be born” ( you can read a fuller account of these encounters here http://nigelmyfireplace.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/125/)

A great deal has occurred since the last “Kingfisher moment.” For one thing Mystery has been born. On the 28th of May 2010 our darling daughter Mystery Kristin Desmond was born. As I look back now I remember a time of great pain, sorrow, anger, frustration and tears freely mingled with joy, anticipation, courage and love. It was a defining time for our family. You see, Mystery was born with Down’s Syndrome. I clearly recall feeling crushed, hopeless and afraid when confronted with the reality that this much desired daughter of mine came with some massive challenges. As I looked ahead to the future I did not know how I would cope, I mourned the death of dreams that I believed could never be even as I welcomed the birth of the mystery lying in my arms. At that time it seemed I had been handed a life sentence, now I know better. Mystery turns four in May and she is the delight of our family. For those who are unfamiliar with people with Down’s syndrome one notable characteristic of many such people is a gentle, delightful and loving nature. Whilst they are at times mentally challenged they make everyone else seem love challenged as they love deeply, selflessly and beautifully. It often seems to me that Mystery infuses her whole life and environment with love. Our home has been so enriched by this little person as we continually trade hugs, smiles, laughter and “Mystery moments” like the way she will throw her arms in the air and shout your name when you walk in to celebrate your arrival, or how she loves to dance on her “dance carpet” when her siblings put music on and to watch her worship melts the hardest of hearts. I often wonder if it is the rest of us who suffer from a Down syndrome when I watch her joyful life journey scattering love in her wake. Like the Kingfishers that announced her birth Mystery sparkles as she reflects the Son light around her life.

That is why the Kingfisher was significant to me and our church. You see last week end we went away for a vision week end with our whole staff and leadership team and the overwhelming theme in the words, visions and prayers for 2014 was that God was calling us to a deepening of our love. As I sat thinking how to communicate this to the congregation the Kingfisher arrived, and I realized that for us to experience the love and care that God wants to be seen in the body of Christ we have to apply the Kingfisher principle in this area too. In the same way that God is wanting to raise up his bride to be powerful moving in signs and wonders, so to he is raising his bride to be powerful in love. The key is YOU WERE BORN TO BE POWERFUL.

In many parts of the church love and care are seen as the job, the function of the full time staff, in much the same way that many think that only ministers can really move in the power of the Spirit and see signs and wonders. As a result people come to church seeing themselves as net love consumers and expect the church to meet their needs for love, affirmation, encouragement, direction, teaching etc. Many churches are willing to cater to this mindset and consequently build systems to provide for the needs of the people. Church growth is driven by meeting peoples felt needs. Let me be clear I know people have needs, and it believe love is right up there at the top of the list. However if you give responsibility to those in ministry to love, care for you and meet your needs you will build a church system that sacrifices freedom on the altar on convenience. In such a system we surrender our responsibility for our own choices, our own thinking, our own power to change our lives in the hope that someone else will come and provide our needs.

The Road to Emotional Serfdom.

In 1944 Friedrich Hayek published his massively influential “The Road to Serfdom” in which he warned of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning. (Wikipedia) He showed how governments in Europe at the beginning of the 20 th century began with the laudable goal of eradicating poverty and meeting the needs of their citizens but ended up building systems of tyranny. In order to accomplish the goal of providing for everyone increasing centralization was required.As a result freedom bled out from the culture. The result was both National Socialism (Nazism) and International Socialism (Communism) two of the most oppressive systems ever devised by man.
How did this happen.
1) It begins when we embrace the lie that we are powerless.
If we we see ourselves and others as powerless and others as powerful we will naturally tend to wait in hope that the powerful will change our reality and our lives.
2)We surrender responsibility.
Responsibility comes with power, when we give away responsibility for our lives we give away the power to change too. If government are responsibility for my future, my happiness and my needs being met then the government have the right to tell me how to change, how to live how to think etc. our freedom begins to be lost.
3) Boundaries get shifted, and shifted until they fall away entirely.
Once we establish the principle that the government is responsible to meet everyone’s need for a job, an education, a living, housing etc then the next logical step is the eradication of the idea of private property, of ownership. In order to provide for all, governments assume the right to confiscate private property in order to provide everyone’s need. Taxes go up, and up and up as the government takes responsibility for more and more of our lives until it seems quite normal that a government can arbitrarily confiscate and redistribute any citizens property.
The central value of this system is meeting everyone’s need. Freedom is defined as freedom from want. Choice and freedom are the sacrificial lambs. God desires our needs to be met, but not by enslaving us. I dream of societies that through a combination of education, empowerment, productivity, compassion and generosity an abundance will result and people will have all they need but without losing either their dignity nor their liberty.
In much the same way there is a road to emotional serfdom. Emotional serfdom is that state when you are emotionally dependent on other people for your well being. You are emotionally bound to powerful people in your life having surrendered to them both the responsibility and the power for your emotional well being. Those trapped in emotional serfdom live in a state of fluctuating anxiety, anger, hopelessness and depression as they struggle to get their emotional needs met.
How do we get free?
1) Renounce the lie that we are powerless. You CAN chose what you believe about yourself, your life, your future. You can make a decision to view yourself as a powerful person. Choose to love yourself. God has told us to love your neighbor as yourself. You cannot love your neighbor until you love yourself. If you see yourself as a net love consumer, you will be reluctant to give away what you need. But when you see yourself as powerful, valuable and loved, you will become a love producer enriching all who come into your presence because you recognize that whilst you too need love you are a net love producer and can therefore live and love generously. Don’t give your power to love away you are created to love and be loved.
2) Take Responsibility for your emotional well being. It is true that you cannot control everything that happens to you or what others do to you or think about you. You can however control what you do about it. I have squandered vast amounts of emotional capital trying to either protect my soul from others negative reactions or trying to get others to approve of me, like me or love me. It leaves you drained, anxious, frustrated, angry, hurt and depressed. Rather start loving yourself on the basis that you are infinitely loved and valuable to God. Take your thoughts captive and make them obedient to the words God says about you. Don’t wait for someone else to deliver you from yourself instead embrace the truth that you are powerful and start taking small positive steps towards the future you want for yourself.
3) Establish your boundaries. Own your stuff. As you take responsibility for your own soul you may find there is a lot of stuff in your soul that you don’t want. Stuff that makes you feel like a powerless victim. Export it! Get it out, one day at a time one thought at a time and replace it with truths from God’s word about you, the future and others. Also you may find that as you begin to prosper in your own soul people will want to latch onto you and take your emotional capital. Know your boundaries and your limits. Live generously, love generously however don’t let the life be drained out of you. Your emotional strength is to be stewarded and shared appropriately. It is valuable so protect it. Do not allow anyone to drain from you the love that is meant for God, your spouse, your family and your neighbor. Instead steward it, and invest it into the relationships God gave you and into the neighbor God gives you. It will bring an abundant return so much so that you will have emotional capital to spare and share producing abundance and prosperous souls.
The central point here is that we are all powerful and have a calling in God. This way of living produces mature and healthy people who prosper emotionally and as a result have a lot to share. It brings freedom as we make our own powerful choices.

I am learning to live powerfully. Not just in seeing signs and wonders but in love. Loving myself my family and others. Love liberates. We are all called to be love producers and out of that abundance share liberally the overflow of what God pours out. As we learn to this we will see the world get free like never before.

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Mystery brings the power of Love to our home

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