Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Maybe the answer is "better"?

I probably watch too many clips on youtube...
Even last night I did an audit of all the clips saved in my watch list and realised it needed a cull.
One thing I have noticed is that people on that platform and elsewhere are pretty passionate and sometimes outright angry about many things.
I not against said passion. It just seems most simply want to destroy.
Destroy what they don't like. Take it down. Take it out.
And in that destruction they hope things will be better...

So I have been thinking lately about what is the best approach to improving things in our world.
Should we go thermo nuclear on every issue or is there a better way, a better approach?

I ultimately believe Jesus came not to merely destroy, but to make things better.
In fact Jesus is famously recorded as saying “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them" (Matthew 5:17niv). Jesus didn't come to destroy anything except the devils work in peoples lives. He came to continue making things better.
His goal of helping people be right with God was not about destroying everything.
He did all that He did to make things right, to makes things better.

If you are anything like me you want the world to be a better place than it is.
But to make it better, don't set about to destroy it.
Ask God today what you could do right now to influence the world...
Ask Him for ideas on how you can make your sphere better just by you being in it...
Ask Him what being salt and light practically means right now for you...

Nehemiah heard about the walls of Jerusalem being broken down and prayed for months.
God put it on his heart to make things better. To build a wall even though he had no experience in wall building.
The desire to make things better outweighed his skills and resources and yet history tells us his desire and action created a better place for God's people.

Can I encourage you to approach things a little different?
Instead of saying someone you know is terrible or bad, ask God how you might help them to be better?
Instead of criticising everything around, like the government, even the Church, ask God to show you how you could make things better. What could you offer to do? What could you give? In what way could you serve?

Nehemiah made things better brick by brick. One life involved at a time.
You can change the world for the better.
Let God show you how this week.

Something to think about...

Monday, June 10, 2019

Feeling better by comparison?

I bet you have compared yourself to someone else at some stage.
We all have...
It probably elicited some sort of an emotional response. Either it made you feel better or worse depending on the person/situation you compared yourself to.

Some years ago I heard a testimony which kind of pricked my attention, not because it was great, but because it disturbed me greatly. I wish now I handled it better afterwards, where I spoke to the person involved, but I didn't and that is on me!
Anyway, they said they used to get down on life when they compared themselves to others seemingly more successful than them. Their "revelation" was to compare themselves with those not doing as well, and that apparently made them feel better. The scary thing was that they thought that was a valid and godly approach...

Now I am a Pastor.
Honestly we as Pastors can be the very worst at this!
Not with the people we minister to or the like, but how we measure success in our ministry, in our leadership, in our Churches.
Even after leading our Church for 10 years I am still stupidly comparing myself. Why?
Because probably deep down I am looking for validation, encouragement and a sense of value from all these years of service.
The problem is for guys like me, it always appears that everyone else is doing a better job because our Church is still considered very small when 'compared' to the average Church. When 'compared' to those we are encouraged to learn from and their successful building of super large and influential faith families, I seem to be coming up woe-fully short.
To be further honest, on a bad day, it is positively soul destroying - please note the mixed language...
There is nothing positive about. It can bring me to a very low point very quickly.

Galatians 6:4-5 days this...
4Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5for each one should carry their own load. (niv)

The idea is that you should only gauge your life, ministry or even success simply on whether you have done your very best to honour God in it. You can only carry your own burden. You can't carry someone else's or measure yourself well with someone else's.

2 Corinthians 10:12 pushes this point further...
We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. (niv)

Paul I think is saying to not even dare to do it. It is unwise. Doesn't achieve much benefit either way.

Then I think he sobers us up further with this comment...
Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Galatians 5:26 niv

If you compare up you feel stink.
If you compare down you act kind of stink.

All you and I can do is ask ourselves the honest questions...
Are we doing everything we can to honour God with what we are attempting for the Kingdom?
Are we looking first and foremost to Him to validate us?
I find this really hard and a challenge personally.

Something to think about...

Friday, June 07, 2019

This was me but is not me anymore!

Have you had anyone ever throw your past back in your face?
That nasty moment when someone tries to run you down based on who you used to be?

There were plenty of people around Jesus who had a 'past':
- Mary Magdalene used to be a prostitute
- Matthew used to be a tax collector (traditionally ripped people off)
- Thomas became known one day as 'Doubting Thomas'.
Just to name a few...

I wonder if sometimes people attacked them with their past mistakes?
Trying to be-little them because they failed, misstepped, missed the mark expected by others and probably even by themselves?
I have been disturbed sometimes to hear people describe others they know by their past and leave it at that - I think in some way as to make themselves feel better, because they weren't a prostitute or a swindler or a doubter.

Paul helped sum up his life to Timothy in a letter he once wrote him...
1 Timothy 1:12-16 niv
12I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.

It is like he is saying "I was a plonker, maybe even the worst one ever, but I thank God He saved me. I am not that person anymore."

I care and I don't care about your past!
I totally get that you and I have one. Maybe even one we are not proud of?
What I most care about is who you are now in Christ and who you will become going forward on your journey of faith!

Don't worry when someone tries to throw your past in your face.
If you know that is just your past, then ignore them.
They are just bitter and in desperate need of the love and grace of God right now themselves. They are probably venting their heart burning frustration with their own struggles.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 niv
17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Paul's advice to you and me is to remember that we are actually being transformed. Maybe not always in the way or pace we like, but being altered on the altar of His grace none-the-less.

Ignore your haters. They are just haters.
Focus on Christ and what He has done and is doing in your life!
That was me but it is not me anymore!

Something to think about...

Sunday, June 02, 2019

We still love Tacos

This fun and thought provoking sign appeared in one of my social medias feeds this last week.
It certainly got me thinking! As you might have expected, I related it back to a relationship with God...

I think most of us like the idea of God being able to meet our needs and wants. Like God giving us a new car when we want one, a better house, a great parking space.
I have also discovered that many people are nervous about God getting too much into their personal life and space. Sometimes out of fear, sometime out of a low faith quotient, and sometimes because they want to keep Him away from certain areas.

What I would love you to discover with me today is that God wants the very best for you!
He is really good at fixing broken people with broken lives. Just look at His disciples and followers and you see a measure even in those examples. From deniers, to protestutes, to the impulsive and arrogant. Exposure to the love of God through Jesus Christ can and will change you if you let it!

I want a God who can alter me, change me, heal me, make me better!

Psalm 147:3 says that God "heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
God wants to alter you on the altar and help you discover who you were designed to be all along.
The devil robs, kills and destroys, but God bring life!

If you need some "fixing" more advice will be nice but not exactly what you might need?
How about being brave with me and God and coming to the altar of grace again today.
Pour out your heart to Him. Ask for your healing. See what God can do...

Something to think about...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Decision Navigation

I was thinking this morning about the day ahead and the share number of potential decisions that will need to be made.
In the course of my normal weekly routine, I actually make hundreds of them.
Some are easy, others not so.
Some don't have major consequences if I get them wrong, while others have major consequences if I do get them wrong.
People each and every day ask me to help guide their decision navigation. In those moments I truly hope I help them and not hinder them.

So how do you decision navigate during your day?
Is there a strategy that works best?
Is experience working for us every time?
Do I delay some choices paralysed by analysing the potential cost of getting it wrong?

Before I do my best to give a simple answer, trust me when I say I am not always super confident in my decision navigation. What I can honestly say is that I do my very best.
Faith is the hallmark of every believer, meaning faith in Christ is tied to my decision navigation. If I think God wants me to do such and such, I don't need to feel 100% about it, faith in God is my anchor.

My approach has been refined over the years...

  • Most days I pray and ask God to help me to get it right.
  • Then I ask the Holy Spirit multiple times a day to guide my choices, through my conscience, words or any other means He might want to use.
  • Then I back myself. And when I say that I maybe aren't backing myself in the traditional sense of having all confidence in myself. It is more than not based on confidence in Him.
God promises each of us that He will never leave or forsake us.
The Holy Spirit was sent to earth after Jesus ascension to be the ultimate counsellor. I believe a key role He has in each of our lives is to purposefully help us make the best choices.

Can I encourage you today to simply pray?
Ask as many times as you like and feel the need, for the Holy Spirit to lead you in your decision navigation.
It should bring your more success than not.
It should bring you a measure of peace.
It should help you to enter into everything the God has for you today.

Something to think about...