Friday, July 10, 2009


Wednesday night, at Hillsong Conference, I heard Joel Osteen speak. Joel tends to have this stigma about him (particularly in my States circles) involving ideas of prosperity gospel and unrealistic optimism. Until recently, I had a cynical eye towards him, towards his preaching, though I had never truly gathered much of his message or his written words. While I listened to him speak on Wednesday night, I became aware of the reality of the hardness of my own heart. While I can't profess to believe or agree with everything that Joel believes, there is Truth pouring out of Joel that is valid, uplifting, and most importantly HOPEFUL. He spoke of being healers in a painful world on Wednesday night, and his words resounded within my heart. It was a confirmation of a great lesson that I have learned at Hillsong as a result of a moving and powerful God: Faith + Hope + Love are REAL. They are not words we say, but they are actions we take.

I often find myself shaking off the cliches that Christians throw at you when you are struggling with something: God works everything together for good; God will bring you through this storm, etc. I came to a profound, yet obvious, revelation yesterday - it has nothing to do with the words, but everything to do with the person who is speaking them and the person who is receiving them. When a person is not coming from a sincere, genuine, faith and love-driven place, and they utter those words, my spirit senses the falsity and doesn't receive the Truth within. But if a person is sitting beside me while I sob, comforting me with such Truths, from a place where they deeply believe what is being said - it is a supernatural comfort from God alone. In saying this, I also have been confronted with my own attitude towards those words: regardless of whether the person uttering them is deeply entrenched in the moment and the Truth, I should be receiving the TRUTH in those words!

God has used Hillsong to teach me many things about His faithfulness, among many other important Truths. The church's faith and hope in God blows me away every time I step through their doors. They are renown worldwide for their fantastic worship - well deserved, in my opinion - but what is slower to catch up is the optimism, the hope, the faith, the beauty that pours forth from their souls. I'm coming out of a mindset that I consider realism (oh yes, I've had this conversation with too many of you and we never agree on semantics!): a world shaded by cynicism and doubt, which I mask as 'reality'.

As an aside, please don't be offended by my words against a realist - I am referring to my own experiences/perceptions and yours may be entirely different, even if you label yourself with the same mindset.

The divine revelation that has slowly been unveiled for me while attending Hillsong is that the mindset I've previously had is like slapping God in the face. He's given me every reason to have Hope, to Believe, to have Faith. He's GIVEN me Faith, I just have to receive it. By no means do I argue that true doubts and frustrations and uncertainties should not be wrestled to the ground with God as you figure them out - he doesn't want your false beliefs or words! But I am far too often a doubter in God's Truth, without truly attempting to understand or relate. I may proclaim His word, but I don't always mean the words flowing from my mouth. I'm learning Who God is and how to begin to truly believe the Word that He has given me. Not to skim over it and read it through the lens of my 28 years spent in the church, but to really READ them. To try to understand what the Word implies - on a grander scale - visible and not. To have faith in the cliches, and unwrap them from that horrible label of cliche.

I must here interject a moment about motivation. When I first came to Hillsong, I wrestled with this idea: If this congregation is so hopeful in circumstances, so filled with faith when it comes to the temporal, won't they struggle significantly with disappointment when their prayers for healing, for jobs, etc are not answered in the way they wish? I watched members talk about non-healed illnesses, deaths, and other prayers that weren't answered in the way they had hoped, and I subconsciously noticed that their faith in God wasn't shaken, wasn't torn down by a loss. What I came to realize through two conversations is that the reason that their faith wasn't shredded was because when they prayed for these things, they weren't basing their hope in God on his answer. They weren't basing their belief in who He is based on whether or not their needs were met as they desired.

A friend referred to the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: they said, God will show up and save us. But if not, we'll believe anyway.

Simple, this revelation - so obvious, so profound. A typical Paradox.

The reality is that mankind is not good on its own. But the Hope effectively bleeds through that horror as Christ resides in us as a church. That is a reason to become an idealist (use whatever word you like, if you disagree with what an idealist is), to shed cynicism and meaningless words and arguments, to embrace both emotion, intellect and spirituality simultaneously, and to trust the God who you serve, who loves you deeply.

It is my deepest, sincerest prayer that my mindset continues to grow from this experience despite being miles upon miles away from the location that I found it, away from the people with whom it's rather easy to embrace such a mindset. I pray for a marked change in my spirit, in how I give to others, in how I encourage others.

It's a slow process, so forgive me for my negativity in the meantime.

I just want to love you better.

About Me

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I live amongst the dragons and the warriors of the 21st century. I surround myself with both the peasants, the aristocrats; the knights and the maidens. For a long time (now quite in the past), I wove the structure of my life around the mold others saw for me. I've since learned to live for God and myself. Freedom comes and goes as I remember this lesson of mine. But my life is MY life: a series of events and remembering such. And this, this beautiful montage, is why I wake up every morning. God willing.