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Training your heart to see

Mike Connell

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Training your heart to see  

Sun 9 Oct 2011 AM

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Training your heart to see_Mike Connell_09-10-2011_am

[Pastor Mike Connell] Well let's take our seats. I want to just introduce a couple who are going to come and share with us now and we're just going to just get an interview with them. But I want to just welcome Graham and Jess Hodder. Graham and Jess have been with us many years. What you wouldn't realise is they've had almost three careers; first career was working in the business area here locally. While he was doing that they were serving first of all Assembly of God church, then they served here in running our kids church for a season. Then they had another season of their lives where they went to China and they ran an orphanage, gathered up Chinese children who were in trouble and cared for them and become spiritual parents for them in a family home. It's amazing. And then they came back and now they're doing something else and I think it's a great inspiration that no matter what you have happening in your life, no matter what stage of your life you're at, there's always something you can put your hand to.

We're going to find out a little bit of what they're doing now, so let's give them a great welcome as they come up now. [Applause] God bless, there we are. We need another microphone. There we go, fantastic. Wonderful. Come on, let's give them a great clap. [Applause] [Laughs] There, we got one, you've got a microphone now.

[Graham Hodder] Thank you.

[Pastor Mike Connell] I've got this one on. That's right, praise the Lord. Just keep it there. Okay, please be seated and this is very difficult for Graham and Jess. They're private people and they don't like to be up the front, so what happened just then probably is the worst nightmare they could have had happen [laughter] but it's very right that we honour people, particularly when there are things to honour in someone's life. Today is not so much about honouring them though, but I think it was appropriate to do that because I don't know any couple that have actually consistently over a such a long course of time, have just committed to the work of the Lord; firstly in a children's church, then the orphanage. Now we're going to hear about what they're doing - would you believe it - on the street evangelism in our city. We're going to find out a little bit about what they've been doing.

They've not been doing it out in front. You don't see this happening and there's a lot of things you don't see happening, but they're going to tell us a little bit today. So Graham and Jess, thank you for coming up. I know you didn't want to do this, but I want to just thank you for coming and just [sit on it, 00.02.12] we'll just chat like we're just here at home. Just shut them all out [laughter] and close the eyes. [Laughter] So the first thing is I'd like you to tell us a little bit about what you've been doing out on the streets of our city.

[Graham Hodder] Well I guess I had to ask myself why are we on the city streets; what are we doing on the city streets? And why have we got a passion now to do this that we didn't have before, because up until a couple of years ago this wasn't our scene at all. But I think what had caused us to do this was our time China where we could see that Christian people were so subdued, it was illegal to become Christians, it was illegal to convert people. There was no such thing as being able to get out into the streets and share with people on the streets. When we came home - we were in China for 12 years, just under 12 years and when we came back we could see that instead of being a closed door as there was in China, there was a door in New Zealand wide open. As we read the word of God which we love the Bible, we love reading the word of God; the great commission that Jesus gave stood out very, very strongly, that for everyone who believes in Him should go out and preach the gospel to every creature.

This doesn't mean to say that we've all got to be full time evangelists, but we could at least give one or two hours a week to reach out to people. So we thought about this and one Saturday night I said to Jess we've got to get out. We've got to get out onto the street, and we had in the [unclear 00.04.05] International School, Bible School of - ISO - School of Missions, that's right. There was one of the sessions there by the way of the master group and they were talking about getting out onto the street, and this inspired us. So this particular night we went out, shivering, it was cold and we started speaking to someone. On that night we spoke about four or five young kids in the parking lot, so what goes on in the street, what happens, what we want to do and what we do do is to share the love of God and the love of Christ. It's the love of God that constrains us, that forces us to go and to share that love with other people.

[Jess Hodder] Well we actually go out like onto the streets to take the gospel and the love of God to as many people as we can. We've got an unlimited opportunity out there.

[Pastor Mike Connell] What parts of the city have you been going out and how often?

[Graham Hodder] Oh right. Initially we started to just go out on a Saturday night. We felt that that was plenty enough for us and we went continuously - [sorry Midi. 00.05.23] Oh thanks Lyn, yeah. Oh yes, we went continuously every Saturday night and then we thought this is not enough, so we went also on Sunday night. Then we felt after about a year and a half that this was not enough, so we'll be going to town anyway on a Thursday night because that's our date night. We always go out and have a meal together and we thought well we're in town, we'll go out and we'll just keep on going out into the street and share. So we go out three nights a week now onto the street to share with people.

[Jess Hodder] Most times there's more people than what we could actually speak to on one night each and we just felt really - thought the ones that we couldn't actually speak to because there just wasn't enough of us...

[Graham Hodder] Yeah.

[Jess Hodder] ...so that's been a real challenge, yeah.

[Pastor Mike Connell] How have you gone about preparing to go out and do this? What have you done?

[Graham Hodder] Well I think it's a matter of if you sense that God has given you a call to do something you'll pour your heart and soul into it, whatever it might be. And with this the strength has come on greater and greater. There is an anointing our lives, we know that, because we are never so happy as when we're down on the street talking to people. We've got one joy. We've got one love and we've got one passion and that is to live our lives for the Lord Jesus Christ, daily to walk with Him and to share with as many as we can about His love. And this is fulfilled as we go out onto the streets.

[Pastor Mike Connell] How do you go about approaching people? What do you do when you're out there, once you're out on the streets and part of the city?

[Graham Hodder] I think this is one of the things that puts most people off from wanting to even to think to go out to evangelise or to share the gospel, the reason being that to approach somebody is very scary. Like someone walking along the street, their mind is probably not even thinking of anything like God and yet somehow you've got to within the space of a few seconds initiate a conversation. How do you do it? Well on this program in the [ISOM 00.07.54] course that we had, they had a little million dollar note. Many have probably seen it. It's a million dollar New Zealand note which of course is a genuine fake and [laughter] so on the back there is some information which I'll read out. But basically how we do it, it is very, very simple and within the space of five to 10 seconds you can establish a conversation on spiritual things inoffensively. I mean that is very important.

We don't like to get into people's face and just sort of get right in front of them. That's not the way we operate. Basically what we do is as we're walking along someone will come walking towards us and Jess might say if it's a lady, Jess might say oh good evening, did you get one of these? And of course most of the time they haven't and they take it off us and they say well what is it? We say well that's a million dollar note but it's a little Christian pamphlet, because on the back there's a million dollar question: hence it's called a million dollar note. The question is when you die where do you think you're going to go, to heaven or to hell? And there's about a two second silence when they're trying to digest that [laughter] and then suddenly you see their faces and you can tell which way the conversation is going to go by the way they reply.

Some people say well I don't believe that a loving God is going to send people to hell. And we say well of course He wouldn't, but it's people who send themselves to hell. But other people will say well how can we know? Other people say well I'm not even interested and they just give it back to us and walk off, they're gone. Okay, fair enough, we just say God bless you, have a nice evening. But then it enters straight away if people say well I'd like to know. One of our questions is well what do you think of Jesus? And on one occasion we said this to a gentleman who was with his children. He'd been playing with them and his wife and so on and he came over and sat at the same table as us. Straight away he said I think Jesus is the most wonderful person that ever lived, and I said do you believe in Him? Are you a Christian? He said no, I'm not, so we were able to share what it was to be a Christian by having our faith in Jesus.

You tell about that young Catholic lady, girl I should say, on the corner there.

[Jess Hodder] Down by the canteen noodle restaurant was a young Catholic lady and we engaged with her and were talking to her. Then we realised she was a Catholic, so we just said to her well have you got a personal relationship, a personal faith in Christ? She said she didn't know, so we explained to her how to have a relationship with Jesus and she said I've never heard it put like this before. That young lady wanted to open her life to Christ, mm.

[Pastor Mike Connell] Wonderful, wonderful.

[Graham Hodder] There were a couple of young men, contractors by the railway line. This was about eight o'clock or half past eight this particular night and they were both - one was on crutches and the other had a broken arm. We went and spoke to them. They said we both had separate accidents. They are contractors out on the farms and they were from Chile. So straight away we had a fair idea they were probably of the Catholic faith, however we didn't say anything. But anyway they said look, we both had separate accidents and then so I said well look, did you get one of these? They both took one and we went through the million dollar question and they turned it over. They said well yeah, that's very interesting. One of them said well I must admit, when my car rolled I started thinking about God. I said are you both Catholics? They said yes, we are.

Then I said have you got a personal faith in Jesus? They sort of looked at each other not quite sure what I was meaning, and they said well - I can't remember the precise words but what do you mean? And so we explained what it is to have a personal faith in Jesus Christ. One of the men said I want that. He said I want that, and we went on a little bit further, to go further, deeper and just slightly more into it so that they fully understood what it was to repent of their sins and to receive God's forgiveness and receive Christ by faith into their hearts. I said do you want to do that? They both said yes, we do, and when do you want to do it? We'd like to do it now, and so those two young men - we don't actually lead people in the Sinner's Prayer. Over the two and a half years we've been doing this over 40 people have opened their lives to Christ. We don't count anymore now, but we said to them I want you to pray your own prayer.

As I say, we don't lead the Sinner's Prayer. So these two young men just simply said Lord Jesus, we want You to come into our lives and be our Saviour. That night those two young men were born again. Unfortunately they lived out on the farm about 20 kilometres out of town, but the following morning we posted them a Gospel of John each. We got their postal address and gave them a Gospel of John. We feel the importance of sharing Christ to these people, Christ Jesus is the one they need to know. That's how we feel about this, and so on the streets we uplift Him to the greatest of our ability.

[Jess Hodder] Mm.

[Pastor Mike Connell] Very good. What encouragement would you give people who perhaps like you were many years ago, would never have considered doing anything like that? What encouragement would you give people?

[Graham Hodder] I would say I know that in a church of our size, 300 to 400 people, I know that there are a number of you, probably quite a large number who really want to do this. You've got it on your heart that you want to go out and you want to share your faith with people. I know how you feel because this is how we felt. We didn't quite know what to do, but we've got a group started now and we've got a team of eight people who come down on the street with us and we've all learnt. We all start just at the beginning and learn how to do this. I would say this, that if you're interested we'll be down the back later after the service. Come and see us because we have on a Saturday night, which is our group night as a Dare to Share as we call it; Dare to Share group, we meet on the Saturday night at six o'clock. We have a DVD on one aspect of sharing on the streets by the Way of the Master people, excellent, excellent stuff and it helps you to overcome things that you may not have thought of.

Then we have a time to pray and then we go down on the street by seven. We get back by about quarter past to half past eight and then we gather together and we talk together about the different ones that we've spoken to, if anyone has come and opened their lives to the Lord and then we pray for them, and then we pray for one another. So you'll be in a very protective situation if you would like to come and join with us. Come down and see us and we can tell you a wee bit more about it, but I know that there are many people who have been thinking they want to do this. So my advice is don't put it off. There are thousands perishing even in Hastings. Hastings has got a population of 71,000. Statistics say that three per cent go to church - that's 2000, leaves 69,000; allowing about 15,000 for little children and people unaccountable, about 15,000. That leaves about 55,000 people who don't go to church and they're on their way to hell unless we tell them.

And God has placed us here. We are here and the job that He has for us is to go out and share the gospel with people. I sometimes think that we are too easy. I think that we are running with the world too much. We've got our own amusements. Sometimes we'd rather stay at home and watch television than get out and be a bit uncomfortable for a while, to go out onto the streets. Some people say to us what about when it's cold and in the winter, you know, if it's wet? I say yes, of course we go out in the winter. I say do you stop going to work just because there's a few drops of rain? [Laughter] No. Or if you're going to go out to the movies or meet someone to have a meal at Breakers do you call it off just because it's a bit of a cold wind? Of course you don't, so why shouldn't we keep going for Jesus, even if it's cold.

[Unclear 00.17.19] Oh yes [laughter] yes. Okay, so if we don't go who will? If you and I don't get out to share, because here we are, we're so happy, we sing, shout it out, tell let the whole world know, you know, be that city of light. But we go out the door unchanged - but we can change and we're all the same. I was the same too, but yes, the Jehovah's Witnesses. Now if we don't go, who will? I'll tell you who will, the Jehovah's Witnesses will go, the Mormons will go and the Muslims will go. I was talking to a Jehovah's Witness gentleman the other night and I knew that he was Jehovah's Witness the way he chatted. We talked about some of our differences and then I said to him the same thing; I said can I ask you a question? He said yeah, of course. I said what does Jesus mean to you? He stopped and then he said well I go out every week and I do - I said no, I didn't ask you that. I said what does Jesus mean to you? And he didn't really have an answer.

I said well what are you relying on when you stand before God? He said well I've done quite a lot for Jesus like that, and I said oh, I was actually hoping you'd say that you were trusting in the blood of Jesus for your redemption. But anyway then I said to him how many of your people go out onto the street every week? He said well if a person becomes a Jehovah's Witness they understand that they've got to go out onto the streets. He said we have two churches in Hastings, one in Hastings East, one in Hastings West, and both churches send out one team every day. He said we have 14 teams going out every week. Each team has about four to five people; that's about 60 to 70 people they send out every week. I felt quite ashamed. I met a Mormon lady last night with whom I spoke and I asked the same question to her.

She said well in Hastings or in Flaxmere we've got about 20 of these young missionaries who do their two year training as missionaries with their little badges on, Elder So-and-So and Sister So-and-So. She said we've got 20 of them. I said do they have to go out every day? She said yes, they do, they go out every day. They are required to do that. Also Islam is growing in its presence on the streets, Muslims. We've met a...

[Jess Hodder] Lots of young people, lots of Maori young people are turning to Islam.

[Graham Hodder] Yeah and so if we don't go folks there are other people who will, so my word is don't put it off any longer. Come and see us. Come out and give it a try. If you can't come out on a Saturday night I'll come out on a Monday night with you. I'll take you down and we can have a go and I'll show you how to do it. But our heart is that our church should rise up. We can do a lot better than we are doing.

[Pastor Mike Connell] Yes, [very good. 00.20.16]

[Graham Hodder] We've got to get serious on this matter of the great commission. Jesus said in Acts 1:8, He said you'll be filled with power after you're filled with the Holy Ghost and you'll be My witnesses. A witness is someone who provides evidence. That word witness also comes from the same word martyr, so to be a witness for Jesus it means that we're willing to put our life on the line to go out and provide evidence for Jesus in our own town. So folks, we just hope and pray that as time goes on more and more people will come out onto the streets to get right onto the coalface. You'll get your hands dirty. People will hug you who you sort of don't want to hug, but they will listen and often times it's always sowing the seed. It's always sowing the seed and the rest is God's responsibility. For the ones who come and open their life to the Lord, some of them have come to the church but they haven't stayed.

A young couple we met under the clock one Saturday night, it was time to go home and we saw this young couple cuddling up on the seat. I think it was about quarter past eight, I can't remember the time, but it was a bit cold and they were shivering. I said come on, let's go and have a chat to this young couple, young Indian couple - and [Buvnesh, 00.21.49] the husband, he's right here at the moment now. And so we shared the good news about Christ and Buvnesh is Hindu and his wife Jess is Sikh. Over the months we got to know them and we wanted to extend our friendship to this young couple, and now they live with us in our little sleep out and we have a Bible study every week. We've gone right through the Gospel of John chapter by chapter; we've gone through the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, 6 and 7, and right now we're going through 1 John, the Letter to 1 John.

Our aim is to tell them about Jesus and about what Jesus expects of us, His commands, because He said go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptising them and teaching them those things that I have commanded you. And so this is what we have done and it's wonderful just to see how they've learned to appreciate the Lord, and how that by taking it a step at a time there's no pressure, they're just taking it a step at a time. But we know that the Lord is showing them and dealing with them.

[Pastor Mike Connell] Very good. Is there anything else you'd like to say?

[Graham Hodder] [Okay. 00.23.02]

[Pastor Mike Connell] Why don't we just close our eyes for a moment. I'd just like to ask you this question: what is God saying to you right now that you've listened to this? Has God spoken to you in your heart? Why don't you just meet Graham and Jess afterwards and just say I'd love to become a part of it all, at least give it a try or come along. I felt stirred in my heart today. Father, we just pray for a fire of evangelism to ignite in the hearts of every believer in this church, to reach the lost for You in Jesus' name. Amen. Well thank you Graham and Jess, it's been fantastic. [Applause] Absolutely wonderful [unclear 00.23.50]. Did you enjoy that? Let's give them a great clap shall we? [Applause] Wonderful, wonderful. Why don't we just hold hands, let's begin to pray for our city. As you pray for our city let's stand together and let's begin to think of people that you know that don't know Jesus Christ.

If you're here today and you're from another church, another place, that's fine. Why don't you begin to think of people that don't know Jesus; let's begin to hold them in our heart, name them before God. Let's begin to pray for them together right now. Thank You Lord. Let your voice rise up to heaven. Father in heaven, we come before You right now. Father, we ask for Your grace to come upon people that we know and love. Father, we pray for opportunities to share with them. Father, we pray the things that hold them back, the things that blind their eyes, the things that cover them, Lord that they would break from their eyes where they would see and respond to the gospel. Father, we pray for a change, a shift in our hearts, our lives, towards sharing You, sharing Your life with others. Lord, we look for the power of Your spirit to flow mightily.

We lift our city before You, asking God that You would touch people; asking for Your presence and power to flow and bring people into living relationship with Christ, great salvations, lives changed, people touched. Lord, we need Your help. We cry out for Your grace, in Jesus' mighty name. Amen. [Amen.] Praise the Lord. Give someone a hug or a high five before you sit down. [Applause] Praise the Lord, well man I enjoyed that. That was really stirring wasn't it? How many felt stirred by that? Is that good? Yeah, it's great and I'm just going to adapt what I was going to speak on and just abbreviate it noticeably. So I want you just to open up your Bible, if you have a look with me in Luke 7. Last week I was speaking on the gift of tongues and speaking in tongues and how speaking in tongues energises your spirit, and the purpose as Graham pointed out is to empower you to become a witness, so your life is to be a witness; the way we live our life, the kinds of attitudes we have.

We heard about gratitude this morning and I see a lot of people complain. This is not being filled with the spirit. Complaining quenches your spirit. In fact David said when I complained my spirit was overwhelmed, so to stay full of the Holy Spirit we do need to learn to be grateful, have a grateful heart, have a thankful heart and rejoice in the blessings God's given us. We need to learn to do those kinds of things, so that's part of being filled with the spirit. And we saw that when you pray in tongues, when you speak in this language that God gives you, it energises your spirit but it also connects you to the Holy Spirit. It opens a line of communication and you begin to start to get insight from the spirit of God. All of us God wants to speak with us. He wants to speak with you. This is not for just someone special; this is for every believer. Every believer can hear the voice of God. Every person can hear from God.

The trouble is often we're too busy and there are too many other voices we're listening to. We listen to all kinds of voices around us, but we can train ourselves to tune in to God speaking to us. It's not hard to train in to God speaking to you, so one of the first aspects of it is to learn to stir your spirit up so you remain energised and alive on the inside. It's great when we pray in tongues, the Holy Spirit is giving us the language. Our spirit is rising up, there's an energy and a life flow that's coming and we begin to come alive on the inside. But this flow that comes from within is the same flow when God wants to speak to you, and I find that continually people kind of put it off as in the too hard basket, rather than actually saying I want to give myself to actually learning how to engage with God, how to be able to see and hear Him and flow with Him.

We can actually train our senses. You have spiritual senses. Paul talks about in Ephesians 1:18, he says that the eyes of your understanding would be opened; in other words that the eyes of your heart, so he's saying that you just don't have physical eyes. You have literally a capacity to see spiritually, but what are you going to see and how are you going to see? We need to train ourselves in that area and there are a whole number of things we can do. One of the most important parts to developing your capacity to see and to connect with God is to harness your imagination. Every one of us has an imagination; whether you use it not, use it well or not, everyone's using it somehow. You're using it well or you're using it badly, but you all have an imagination. Imagination is your capacity to form pictures or images inside you. You just do it and don't think about it, but think about this.

In your imagination you can close your eyes and in just a moment you can begin to start to see pictures - don't know where they are, but they're in your imagination. There's a part of you clearly that enables you to see pictures, and that part of you is connected to your spirit because the Bible talks about the imaginations of the heart. So your imagination, your capacity to create pictures inside you, images inside you, that's a gift God has given you. It's connected to your spirit, so therefore it's a part of your spiritual capacity. Your imagination can be used in all kinds of ways, like you can close your eyes and begin to think of a happy experience you had in the past and before long it's like all your attention is focussed; you've forgotten what you're doing and in your imagination you're back there and you're very happy out in that boat catching snapper. [Laughter] There's great feelings start to flow inside you and you can start to remember that tugging and there it is, and it was all in your imagination.

You just went there and for a moment you forget about everything around you and you're there as though you were back there really. You see, you can feel that kind of experience happening inside you and it brings great pleasure. There are other things you don't want to remember because to go back and to picture them may be very painful. They may be traumatic images, but if you haven't restored or healed your soul, haven't let Jesus do that, those images are still in there and a lot of people don't want to stop and have a think too long, because some of those images come back up. So we have to be able to deal with that if we're going to cleanse this part of us for opening our mind to God. We can imagine the present. Most of us when we imagine the present, you begin to think about something and then before long you're thinking about what could happen in that and you start to get very anxious.

So maybe you stop for a moment and the moment you start to pray, immediately your mind goes and you're thinking about your work situation, how difficult it is, or a relationship problem and you begin to think about it. Before you know it you're away there in your imagination, holding a conversation with someone. You've gone. You've gone from where we are and you're in your imagination. You're actually out in a place and thinking about things you're facing or are around you. It can lead to a tremendous anxiety, and a lot of people who struggle with anxiety and have panic attacks, they're allowing their imagination to run away and to picture a very negative future. So your imagination has a huge impact on you. It affects your brain, it affects your body. You begin to imagine for example, begin to just think of a food that you really like and just as you close your eyes begin to think of that food and see yourself sitting down to begin to - there it is, it's right - oh my! Oh look at that, the hokey pokey ice cream and strawberries. I'm getting hungry already. [Laughter]

And you can just for a moment just go away and it's almost like your connection to what's around you and the people around you diminishes, and your awareness of what's in your imagination can increase. So your imagination is very, very important. God [over in the area of the Bible 00.31.50] speaks consistently, for example with Abraham when He wanted to birth faith in Abraham's heart. He said Abraham, every day when you go out look up at the stars. That's how many children you're going to have. I know your circumstances are very bad right now, and I know your wife's getting really old and I know you are too and there's not much happening between you. But however look up at those stars because I want you to get something in your imagination: lots of kids. Then in the day time He'd say I want you to look at the sand, a lot of sand around.

So he stirred his imagination to picture his future, so we can imagine our future. You can make a plan and imagine your future, so you may plan a holiday. You get the brochure and you sit there, you're oh, sitting on the beach in Fiji [unclear 00.32.36], oh my! And it's always for a little bit you just away you go into that - or you may have a project and so you're trying to do something. You stop and you begin to think about that project and you're working it all out and it's being designed in your head. So you notice that the things that you imagine are actually the things that for the most part turn up in your life, so you think about it. You build a house, you imagine the house first. You're going to repair a room in the house or renovate a room in the house, you always imagine it before you do it. Before the world came in to being God imagined it, saw it in a picture form and then called it and made it happen, so what we see, whether it's been made by someone or whether it's actually created by God, all of it started in imagination.

So your imagination connects the physical world with the realm of the spirit; what is unseen can come into the physical world through the doorway of your imagination. That's why your imagination is very important and I want to show you just a couple of simple things you can do to harness your imagination and then a discipline you can develop in your life that will help you in your engaging with God at a personal level. [I'll show you, 00.33.46] it's quite simple and I'll just use the scripture to help you do it and very, very simply. So our imagination is incredibly important. Think about this. Jesus said in Matthew 5, He said if a man looks on a woman to lust after here, then he has already committed adultery in his heart. So during the period where he's lusting he's in his imagination, so maybe it's in pornography or maybe it's in some fantasy and the way the mind goes.

There's this fantasy and in the fantasy he's now his heart is flowing towards this evil picture or picture of evil, and the Bible says the sin has already happened. So in the heart, the heart is now stained. So when the fantasy is over and the person comes out of the fantasy, their life is now stained with adultery, so they now bring into their physical relationships what has been in the fantasy realm of the heart. Think about that. Women, you would know, if you've ever seen a man looking at you and he's mentally undressing you or he's got bad things in his mind going on. You can feel it. You can feel it it's that bad. Where did it start? It started in the imagination, so clearly what was in his imagination has now brought something into the world, into the relationship, which causes you to feel uncomfortable and aware something bad is in that person. Do you understand?

So your imagination is incredibly important because we design our future through our imagination. We create in our imagination, we are able to plan a different life with our imagination, or we can repeat the failures of the past. A lot of it has to do with what's going on in the imagination. So we need to harness our imagination and in the Bible it uses the word to describe this; it describes it, it's called meditation. In Joshua 1:8 it says if you will meditate in the law of the Lord day and night and it'll not depart out of your mouth and you observe to do it, notice what it says. You will make your way prosperous and successful, so saying to Joshua who's facing a huge challenge, He said I know the challenge is big. I know there are giants and big walled cities, but what I want you to do is to meditate in the word of God because as you do that and begin to speak your agreement about it, and go over and over and over what it's going to do, it will motivate you and form in you the faith to overcome.

So right through the Bible it talks about meditation as being an important key to prospering. In 1 Timothy 4, I think verse 15 or somewhere near that, Paul talks to Timothy. He says Timothy, I know we laid hands on you and prayed for you and imparted a gift to you, but Timothy what you need to do is to actually do something. Don't just leave it be, like wasn't it a great meeting? I got a prophecy and they laid hands on me, [blah blah blah. 00.36.37] He said don't do that. He said now I want you to meditate. I want you to use your imagination to picture yourself flowing as I have prophetically described over your life, and constantly day after day see it and acknowledge it and expect it. It will start to change and you'll start to prosper. So he always talks about meditating and giving yourself to the thing you're meditating on. If you meditate on sin you'll give yourself to sin; meditate on a plan for some project, you'll give yourself to that project. Meditate on a relationship developing, you'll give yourself to that relationship.

So what you're meditating on, we all meditate. It's just a matter of deciding what we're going to meditate on. So one of the things is this, is if meditation or if your imagination is a faculty that connects the spiritual world and the natural world, then that's where the Holy Ghost is going to talk to you. So when you're praying in tongues the Holy Spirit is imparting into you, He's imparting into your language and that comes up. You pray in tongues and then you stop praying, you'll suddenly hear the language in your head, so there's a flow starts. Now where God wants to communicate with you, He wants to actually put pictures into your mind or speak into your mind and it comes up through your spirit. So praying in tongues is a great way to stir your spirit, but you need to learn also to harness your mind. My experience with my own life and with the life of many Christians is they don't know how to focus their thought life.

So I want to just give you some simple keys that will help you, then we'll just look at a passage and let's just see what God will do. It shouldn't take us long, but let's just open our mind to just take a scripture. So here are a few practical keys on what you can do to train your imagination and it tells us to do this. In 2 Corinthians 4:18 it says now the things that are going on around us that are difficult and upsetting and challenging, it says all of these things are temporary and they will work for us. They will work on our behalf something that changes that changes us provided we do this; we look at things which are unseen, not at things which are seen, because the things seen are temporary, the things unseen are eternal. Now notice what He's saying. It's up to you to choose whether you focus your mind and your thoughts and your attention on the realities of that which are spiritual, or whether you focus them on the realities which are in the physical world.

It doesn't mean you ignore everything in the physical world. You have to cope with life and face life like it is. But what He's saying is there's something bigger than that that can change our physical reality. He's saying this, He's saying if you can see it it's temporary. If you can see it and touch it it's definitely temporary. Think about that - but He said if it comes from the realm of eternity, the realm of heaven, the realm of God, then it's eternal. It's tangible. It lasts forever - so you notice that whatever you purchase or own, no matter how good it is, how expensive it is, how valuable it is, I can assure you you will leave it all behind. It is definitely temporary. No matter how established you look right now it's not going to be how you'll be at the end of your life. It's like we have to face that if you can see it and touch it it's temporary, and it's subject to change. It will change, but one of the things that's important is to get our eyes on the realm of the supernatural, the realm of the spiritual.

So how are we going to do that? There are a few things you can do. Number one thing that can help you is fasting. Physical fasting on food can sharpen your sensitivity in your spirit, just sharpens you up. One of the things that if you're going to develop your capacity to see clearly and begin to experience flows of God speaking, I encourage you to fast of visual media: fast off television, fast off internet - except what's needed for work, fast off looking at stuff which could damage you or put images into your mind you can't get out. So for example we're in a culture now where all of these TVs, video games and internet, all that kind of stuff literally floods the imagination. It bypasses all your thinking, just goes straight in there and saturates you. There's a reason for that, because we're living in an hour when there's going to be the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit and there is a need for you to keep your imagination clean and clear. Otherwise you can't flow with God and the things He has for you.

You can't see His future for you. You're just flooded. It's like it's dulled out, so I have found it's quite important to at times just go right off all media to stop the dulling out of the imagination and to allow the imagination to come back alive again. So fasting is kind of like cutting off some stuff, so you've got to do a bit of cutting off. That's one thing you can do. The second thing you can do with your imagination is to cleanse your imagination. Cleansing your imagination is very important to actually stopping the invasion of unwelcome thoughts. Now all of us have unwelcome thoughts. We've got to deal with it. Some of them are images or pictures of the past. You've got to face them and consciously address them. I've found that at times when I pray, at times when I'm thinking, stuff will come that's unwelcome. So what I've learnt to do is to speak into it, to actually be quite proactive.

Don't say to it I shouldn't think that. You'll put yourself under the law and have no power to change it, because the law has no power. Just recognise if there's an unwelcome image coming into your imagination, it's a spiritual pressure coming on you to defile you and it needs a spiritual response. Quite simple? So a spiritual response is if it's an old picture and it's a haunting; suppose you're a male and you've been involved in sexual relationships and so a picture of something comes back and it's in a previous experience, it just keeps coming back to you. You actually have to cut your attachment to it, so just instead of trying to say I shouldn't think that, just look at that picture: In Jesus' name I repent totally of that. I reject that picture. I cut off all attachments in my soul to it.

Father, I just paint it over with the blood of Jesus Christ and I curse the thought tree that allows it to stay established within my life - because physically and chemically, if you keep repeating your thoughts you form in your brain chemical thought trees. It's as simple as that and that's why I think it's quite interesting that Jesus when He was teaching about faith, that the illustration He used was He cursed the fig tree and said don't bring forth fruit anymore. And the tree died or withered. Now I was thinking the other day and wondering whether Jesus knew well ahead about the fact that scientifically in the 21st Century we'd discover that the way your brain works is that there's neuron thought trees and they just grow, and if they're bad thoughts then they're toxic trees and if they're good thoughts they're quite healthy trees. [I think time just can 00.43.29] show that.

So I learnt that one of the things it was helpful to do was instead of trying to fight the thought, address the thought and confront it. Just confront it and speak it's unwelcome. Hold the blood of Jesus Christ over it. It's a persistent one cut off any attachment that I may have had to it and then just curse the thought tree that gives it a place to sit. I've found it quite effective to just [psst, 00.43.53] it's gone, just gone like that, and then redirect your attention somewhere else. So one aspect of developing our capacity to see is cutting off the stuff we don't want to see and fasting helps, and cleansing your mind with the word of God helps as well. The the second thing then is to actually learn to focus your attention as you - and these are two things you can do to help you develop. One of them is as you pray in tongues and your spirit is flowing, begin to focus your attention on some things you're praying about and consciously look at them.

Now so for example I'm praying for my wife. Well then I'd begin to picture my wife, lift her before the Lord, speaking things: Lord, I just lift Joy before You right now. I thank You for her, and I just begin to pray for her. Now as I pray in tongues for her I begin to hold the picture of her in my imagination, looking to see if God wants to open up and show anything around her or around our marriage that I need to know about, and it'll come by way of a picture or impression, just starts to come and you suddenly become aware of something. So as you pray, focussing your attention when you pray is quite important. Many people can't focus their attention very long, so there's something that you can do to do that. So one is praying during prayer time; another is pray as you go to sleep. You just pray Lord, I just begin to set my mind on You, meditate on a scripture, meditate on Him and as you're going and dropping off to sleep say thank You Lord, I open my inner man for You to speak to me through dreams tonight. That's one way of doing it.

Here's another thing that you can put into practice and that is meditating. I think of all the things that meditation, consciously meditating in the word of God is one of the most powerful ways to shift your inner man and to shift your inner life. It's spoken all over the Bible and meditation; meditation means to consciously use your imagination to roll over and repetition is the key. Repetition and impact, those are the keys in how strongly this thing impresses you, so let me just show you how it'll work or how I've done it. I've taken either a scripture passage with Jesus in it, or Psalm 23 or some other passage that talks about God, talks about His works, talks about who He is and what He's like. Many scriptures talk about what He's like, and then just pray in tongues for a little while and get the flow going. Then I may pray quietly in tongues, very quietly in tongues.

While I'm doing that I allow my imagination to begin to try to picture the details, and so what you could do then is just take a story from the Bible like I did it this morning. Just take this story here and I'll show you what you could do. Now in Luke 7:11-15 it happened that He went to a city called Nain. The word Nain, I looked it up and it just means pleasant, beautiful, a lovely happy place - and He went there and there was a whole of disciples there. So what I would do is this. I read the story through several times. I can tell you what's in the story, I know what's in the story. Jesus got a huge crowd, He's going from one place to another and He happens to go through a town called Nain, and it means beautiful and fruitful. And as He comes there He begins to see a huge crowd coming out of the city. He's going into the city; a crowd is coming out of the city and it's not a happy crowd.

It's a crowd of mourners. He knows they're mourners because they're all wailing and sobbing and crying. This is a large crowd, so He's got a crowd coming His way. There's another crowd coming the other way. Jesus is about to connect with them just like that, and as they come there He sees that they're carrying something. They're carrying an open kind of coffin. They've got like a stretcher and there's a young man all wrapped up. He's dead, and his mother ought - obvious who the mother is, she's dressed in black. She's right behind him and she's weeping, and around her is everyone else is all weeping. There is a lot of weeping, a lot of wailing and this woman, it's her only son and she's a widow. So that means - you need to get the facts of the story - only son and widow. So there it is, and this is what it says. Jesus is moved with compassion. Now I want you just to [say it 00.47.56] and what did He do? Well He did unthinkable. He touched a dead body. No one ever touched a dead body.

He went over and He put His hand on the body, stopped the whole show and His crowd and the other crowd stopped all with a standoff kind of thing. What is He going to do? He spoke to the boy, He raised him from the dead and then He brought him and presented him to his mother - so that's the story. You can read the story. You need to read the story two or three times until you've got the story inside you, and then when you've got the story inside you put your Bible down so you don't have to look at it. Now in your imagination enter into the story. Now you see you have to understand the word of God, the Bible says the word of God is living, so most people who read a Bible it's just words. They can't even remember what the words are. We're not approaching it right. You've got to approach it Holy Ghost, You wrote these words. You wrote the story. I want to get in the story and find out what's there. I want You to speak to me and help me engage with Jesus, because this story is a revelation of Jesus.

So how do you do it? Well you have to allow your imagination, so read the story, you're not a reader. Listen to it on a tape - Janice is not a good reader but she listens to things over and over and over on tape until she knows the story better than anyone. It's just repetition, gets the story. When you've got the story and as you begin pray, now you can begin to start to put yourself in it. So what would you do? Well you can position yourself anywhere in the story you like and every time you do it you can position yourself differently. You can position yourself alongside Jesus. You walk with Him as an observer, one of His disciples, to see what He's going to do and how He's going to respond - or you can position yourself over here and you're alongside the woman and you're feeling the grief and the pain and seeing what's happening there. You can position yourself anywhere in the story you like, and wherever you position yourself you get a different view of it.

You become aware of different things, but you have to allow your imagination to take you into the story. You've got to start off by priming the pump, by getting the story in and then starting to begin to think about it and stay there and not get distracted by lunch. [Laughter] And it's as you stay there you start off using your imagination to picture it, and what are you looking for? You're looking into the story to draw out every detail that you may not have seen before. So you're entering in with an enquiring mind like you're looking around the story, and as you look around the story try to engage what you feel; what do I feel as I am watching this? And so if you know a few of the key things in the story, then they'll come to mind. So you begin to - there it is, you're with a huge crowd. Supposing you just close your eyes for a moment so you're not looking at me.

Just allow yourself to just for a few minutes - we'll do this. It'll take about four to five minutes. It'll help you. So Holy Ghost, lead us into the story to engage with Jesus. This is what I do is just begin to quietly pray in tongues and begin to see the story and we're in the story now, and it's a great crowd of people, a huge crowd of Jesus' followers. Some of them are committed people, some of them are His apostles that are with Him, and some of them are just a rabbly crowd. They've just come along to see what will happen. They're all there. There's a huge noise of this crowd and we're following Jesus and I don't know what will come up, because when we're following Him the unexpected comes. So I wonder what's about to happen as we walk with Him and start to come to the city, a place that's supposed to be very fruitful, very abundant, a place that's a very happy place. That's what it means.

And as we look we see there's someone coming to us and they're not at all happy. There is a whole crowd of people, lots and lots of people. What's going on? There at the front of it, four men carrying a young man who's obviously dead, and there's his mother. I think a lot of people knew that woman and a lot of people knew that young man. They were well known in that village; that's why the whole village turned out, because the whole village was impacted by this. As they come closer you see there's a tremendous spirit of grief over them. They're weeping. I wonder why they're weeping? What does it mean? She's a widow. How sad. Lost her husband. This isn't the first funeral we've been to. I wonder what it meant to her to lose her only source of income, to lean on this young man growing up, expecting that one day he would provide for her. And now he's been stuck down by some disease, some sickness.

She's prayed and prayed and prayed and God doesn't seem to have heard. Then her son, her hope of a future dies. It's a shock to her. All of her hope, her dreams taken away in a moment of time; no one to support her, sustain her, so she's following her son. Her heart is broken. As you look you can sense and feel the grief, tremendous grief. A woman with no inheritance, no future, no hope, walking her second journey to the burial ground to put her son beside her husband, knowing when she comes home there's no one to come home to. Feel the grief. Let your imagination, heart open up to let the Holy Spirit show you this person who's lost all hope of the future, the hope of a next generation rising to support, all gone; hope of her son to care for her in her old age, all gone. As you look you can't help but think of when your dream was taken away, when your hope was dashed. Perhaps right now as you're looking at that picture and see her just think oh, so it's not just about her. In some ways that's you too.

Did something valuable in your life seem to be taken away? Allow yourself to feel her grief, the grief of having the hope of your future taken away. What does Jesus do? He's moved with compassion. Place yourself just where the woman is, seeing the crowd coming towards them. She doesn't even know who He is and what He can do - but He sees her, just like He sees you and His heart is moved with compassion. What does that look like? What would His eyes look like? Let your heart reach out and feel the compassion of Jesus. He stops everything, steps into this hopeless situation, puts His hand on the child and restores hope again, restores life again. What kind of God is this that can come into a place of absolute death and bring life; come into a place where there's despair and no hope and recreate a new future? And Jesus took the young man's hand and presented him to his mother. Try to look at the look in her eyes of disbelief, that this God we serve could do such things, the tears of gratitude. This is the God we serve, God of resurrection life, no situation too difficult, no situation beyond Him and He cares. So we begin to engage, find your heart begin to be moved. You start to feel His presence.

Of course I've tried to do it out loud, but normally be doing this alone and as you just allow your heart to flow into the scripture, into the story, the Holy Spirit starts to take over and it gets a life of it's own. God begins to show you other things and how this works in your life, takes you and begins to show you other things. Pictures begin - it starts to take on a life of its own as you focus your attention and refuse to be distracted. Once you learn to do this in scripture, to hold your attention fixed in scripture for long periods of time, your mind becomes trained to tune into the flows of the spirit. Your mind starts to become trained to resist distracting thoughts and stay locked into listening to God. Then our heart starts to feel the flow of life.

This morning I just meditated on that scripture. I just began to weep as I felt God apply it personally to me. I encountered the Jesus who's compassionate and you see experiences like that, we carry them inside us and it enables us to easily connect with Him and to hear from Him and to receive from Him, because we're tuning our inner man to the realities of the spirit of God and the word of God. Very, very simple isn't it? Let's open our eyes. How many people got touched? How many people felt God touch you? Mm, quite a number of you. Father, we just thank You that You're teaching us, training us to be Holy Ghost people, opening our hearts and lives to You, learning how to train and develop our inner man to reject the negative, to focus on the good things that You have for us, and to become people of faith and influence. Lord, let the compassion of Christ deepen in our heart, that as we see lost people we will want to step out of the constraints and do something to help them and touch them with Your love. Everyone said [Amen.] Amen.

Don't forget to meet with Jess and Graham at the end if you want to ask any questions. They're just down there. Don't forget to give Owen a welcome. He come back from Pakistan. We've seen over 200,000 people come to Christ and this is a great, great thing. Fantastic. God bless you, have a fantastic day. We'll see you back here tonight.

[File ends 00.59.17]


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