NO! is also an answer.

At 3 a.m. on the morning of October 28th, 1940, the Italian ambassador to Greece, Emanuele Grazzi, delivered an ultimatum from his Prime Minister, Benito Mussolini, to the Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas. Grazzi demanded that Metaxas allow the Italian army free passage to enter and occupy strategic sites in Greece unopposed.

Faced with this demand, Metaxas delivered an unequivocal response in French, the diplomatic language of the day, “Alors, c’est la guerre.” This brief phrase, “Then, it is war,” was quickly transmuted into the laconic “Oxi,” the Greek for NO, by the citizens of Athens.

At 5:30 a.m., before the ultimatum had even expired, the Italian army poured over the Greek-Albanian border into the mountainous Pindos region of Northern Greece. There they met fierce and unexpected resistance.

Within six months, Ioannis Metaxas would be dead; his successor, Alexandros Koryzis would commit suicide; Mussolini would be humiliated; and the Germans would raise the swastika over the Acropolis.

Several historians assert that the emphatic NO from the Greeks, as well as strong resistance, delayed the advance of the Italian and German forces to the extent that it altered the outcome of World War II. Churchill paid homage to the Greek resistance by claiming, “…until now we would say that the Greeks fight like heroes. From now on we will say that heroes fight like Greeks.” Every October 28th, Greeks at home and abroad honor the past by celebrating Oxi Day.

This is a very valuable lesson for Christians. Paul in his letter to Titus says, “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “NO” (oxi) to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age”. (Titus 2:11-12).

Grace without saying NO is cheap grace. We make the mistake of thinking that we can say yes to everything and rely on Gods grace alone to save us. Yet Paul reminds us that true grace is understood when we say NO to sin, over and above God’s extended hand of grace. His gift of grace + our action. We cannot continue to live lives that submit to worldly passions and desires and expect to hold onto Gods grace every time. God expects us to say NO. When Jesus confronted the women caught in adultery (I wonder where the man was that she was involved with?) he told her to go and ‘sin no more’. His grace was the gift of salvation and equally an implicit instruction to stop her sinful acts. In other words, when she was confronted with the same situation, she had to act purposefully and say NO.

Paul emphasised this when he wrote to the church in Rome. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By NO means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 61-2.

“It has never been about having the right words
or being the right person.
It’s always and only
about His Grace”
Sometimes all our sin needs is a NO.

OXI!

What a Pastor learnt from a Pop Idol.

One thing that we value at Gracepoint, is making sure that the music Worship (everything we do is actually worship, but that’s for another day), is on another level. Our worship teams often take us as the worshippers to another level. It’s simply beautiful. There are a number of reasons that make this so. One of them is that we chose to collaborate with full – time Christian artists and give them an opportunity to lead at a local level. One of the musicians is Connell Cruise, one of the hottest music talents in South Africa right now. He has in fact just signed a great music deal in the USA and sadly (for us), will be spending the next six months in New York, writing and recording. Connell has a great stage presence, is a real performer and lover of Jesus. When he first started leading worship at Gracepoint, many people were taken aback by his moves on the stage. I could almost hear some of the congregation saying, this is unacceptable, it’s a ‘performance’. Well, before long, Connell worked his way into our hearts and became part of the Gracepoint family.
The Gracepoint family started a satellite ministry over three years ago. Gracepoint Melrose was planted, followed by Gracepoint Phelang, Gracepoint Waterfall, Gracepoint Leeuwkop and more recently, Gracepoint Monte. The idea of the satellites was to create smaller campuses where there would be a campus pastor that would pastor the community and would lead the services on Sundays. It would incorporate live worship and then have the sermon sent via satellite from our Glenferness Campus. This has seriously stretched our Worship teams, but under the fantastic leadership of our Worship Director, Greg Jorden, authentic, God-honoring worship is held at each of the campuses every week. This is where it gets interesting.
I had the privilege of watching Connell lead worship at the campuses, in front of the between 70 or 120 people. Well, you could easily imagine that he thinks there are 7000 or 12000 people. It is the most humbling and at the same time exhilarating thing to experience. The reason? He gets that no matter how many people there are, we only play to an audience of One. I have seen too many Pastors/Leaders play to the people in their audience and especially the size of their audience. Pastors have too often delivered half-baked sermons (me included) and leaders have lead with a tempered fire when confronted by what they consider ‘lack’. Lack of size, vibe, environment etc. Connell is never intimidated by the size of the congregation, or the lack thereof. It’s not about the size or the mood, or even the facilities, but rather, it’s about the greatness of our God.
Thank you Greg Jorden, Caryn Irving, Audrey Mbuyazi, Connell Cruise and every worship leader that reminds us that it’s all about the audience of ONE.