Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I long for you...

Check out this uber cool letter intro with me...

3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

7It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-8 niv

Our faith is in part all about imitation.
Not merely pretending and acting but actually imitating those who have gone before us as a way to learn how to live by faith.
We are called disciples before we are christians.
You are known as a christian because you are actually a disciple of Jesus!

Paul puts a lot into context here for me, particularly with the season we are in.
- He thanks God for the people God has put in his life.
- He says that he sees them not just a members of some club but actually has partners.
- He goes on to encourage them about the future.
- And the he wraps it all up but expressing just how much he longs for them. That he has them each in his heart. The people he knows are not just acquaintances, they are far more important to him!

I find this so challenging and something I think we can go for in our Christian Culture.
Cultivating it to the point where we "long for one another with the affection of Christ Jesus"

So who has God put in your life?
Maybe you like some, really like others and maybe think you could live without the rest?
But I believe God has put us together for a truly divine and beautiful purpose.
A purpose you can only discover if you want to look at things maybe a little different.

Decide today that you want to be present and be engaged.
Look for ways to be with, along side, minister to and with his people.
Hunt for excuses to be together, not reasons to be apart.
Maybe even see this level of love and longing as actually a measure of true spiritual maturity?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Naked Pastor

I had a little fun with the Church Family recently and showed them a picture of me naked as part of my message...
Yes I was butt naked. In the nuddy. In my birthday suit.

Now before you destroy your faith picturing me in my 'el natural' glory, you need to understand it was a baby photo I found. In it I am lying I believe tastefully face down on a sheepskin. It was apparently the thing to do in the 70's...yes I am that old!

The point?

We were talking about being authentic with our faith and ultimately our lives.
You see the more I thought about Jesus relationship with his disciples before he went to the cross, the more I realised just how much they must have known about each other!

The lived together constantly it seems over a number of years.
Camped out under the stars. Stayed in peoples homes.
They travelled together on long walking journeys with plenty of time to talk.
They shared all sorts of meals together under differing circumstances.

Take a moment now and think about what life would be like if you lived that way with 12 other people from your Church Family...interesting?

The Gospels give us a list of highlights and lowlights of their time together.
From when some ministry moment went extremely well all the way to where they stuffed up.
Even after all they went through they still loved Jesus, maybe even more!
And this Jesus was just as convinced it seems that they were still the people for the job of sharing the gospel, being the beginning of the Church.
Authenticity, honesty and transparency hadn't ruined their relationship, it seemed to have helped?

So this week can I encourage you to take a chance with others of faith?
Be just that little bit more engaged, involved, open, honest, transparent.
Let others share with you as you share with them.
Serve others and let them serve you in some way.

If we are all like that and understand why, then I think we are able to be a little more mature about it?
I also think being this way could be the most beautiful thing in your week?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Acceptable - Better - Best

I have a little challenge for us all this week!
When it comes your options, your choices, your work, your family, your friends...
To what level do you want to operate at?
How far do you want to go?

- Acceptable
- Better
- Best

Here is how it might work for us?

example 1
If your boss asks you to perform a certain task as part of your job, do you just do enough to squeak by to complete it? Or do do a little better than enough? Or could you even choose to exceed expectations and do the best job possible, maybe even ahead of schedule?

example 2
You discover that a close friend has had some bad news regarding their health, do you flick them a quick text to say your sorry to hear the news? Or do you pick up the phone and call to say hello? Or could you even choose to jump in your car and drive around to theirs, and then listen to them share how they are?

One of the beautiful things about life is the majority of the time, we all have choice. We get to choose how we respond to life.

This is just my opinion, but I think the most God honouring and Christian thing to do is go for the highest level we can at any time.
Best is always Best!
God demonstrates His 'best is always best' attitude by sending Jesus to earth for us. Going all the way with His sacrifice. Going even further by offering people like you me salvation, salvation that is never deserved. Plus He even gives us His Spirit to lead us and empower our lives.
I like God's best. I want God's best for my life...

Because of His example and my desire to honour Him, I want to give my best! How about you?

Something to think about...

Monday, July 06, 2015

Don't be too quick...

I am reminded of this again and again...
Sometimes things aren't what they appear to be on first glance.
Sometimes what is reported to have happened, isn't the whole story.

The world we live in now loves sound bites, headlines, quick responses to events.
It seems to be that gone are the days of taking the time to report a story or event with as many of the 'facts' as possible. 'Fair and balanced' has been replaced with the 'quick, free and easy' access to ideas.
No longer is it the 'norm' to be unbiased with reporting.
And even reporting from 'bias' is more than accepted.

I actually love how social media and the internet in general has sped up the flow of information.
For things like natural disasters and breaking events that people need to be aware of for a humane response or for safety, it is amazing.
On the flipside, it seems to me that this same medium has been hijacked but reactionary blasts without much consideration to fact, fairness or consequence.

How many 'news stories' lately have actually changed after a few days?
Where when both sides of the debate have been presented or more facts come to light, the story is kind of different to what was published...

I made a decision some time ago to slow down responding to things that everyone gets excited about.
I let a day or so pass before leaping to my keyboard. I watch. I research. I pray. I consider.
Then and only then do I think about making a response.

Scripture reminds me of many things that I think are related to this:
- To consider carefully what I choose to believe and then report.
- To not be too hasty in what I say or do.
- To be careful and considered in how I deal with others and their ideas/beliefs.

Can I encourage you to take a breath next time you are about to vent about something you have heard or read. And let God show you what your response should be...maybe even sit on it for a day or two?

Something to think about...

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Who are you supposed to be?

I got asked recently what I have learnt from the last few years leading a Church here in Taupo.
As quickly as I pondered my answer, words seemed to just fall out of my mouth...
"You need to be yourself" was my quick retort.

Since making that comment I have thought a lot about it and now I am not so happy with my answer.
It is the answer most people give these days when asked who we are supposed to be. All around the world people are celebrating the so called diversity that exists, and using the "you need to be yourself" catch phrase.

Who are you supposed to be?
This is what I think would be my answer now...

1. Be Yourself
Who has God made you to be? What are the gifts and talents He has deposited in your life?
What have you learned? What are the some of your life experiences?
What are the personal tastes you have? What's your favourite way to have eggs (Runaway Bride Movie)
They are all part of being yourself, or at least discovering it along your journey.

The world needs you to be the you that you were destined to be!
Not simply a facsimile of someone else.

The other side of this I consider is important and helps avoid the danger of arrogance, when we are focused on the me being me...
If I am a jerk by nature or by hurts and circumstance, the world doesn't need me to be myself. I need help to be more than myself. A God planned and instituted change needs to happen in my life.
I am scared that the 'just be yourself' mantra is many times trotted out as an excuse to cover over the worst of our human nature.
I know that I am called to more and to better!

2. Be Everything to Everybody
Paul said that he was everything to everybody so that he might save some.
The hint he gives is that being yourself might not quite be enough?
I truly believe we need to be ourselves, the honest version of us...and at the same time we should desire to be more than that for others.
Real love actually sees beyond our needs and who we are, to who we can be for someone else.

3. Be Salt & Light
Jesus said that His people are designed and mandated to be salt and light in the world.
People who stand out for all the right reasons and season the planet with His Kingdom.

Learning to be yourself is a journey, maybe even an art?
I think as long as we are honest with ourselves, with others, and with God, that we will be able answer our initial question.

Something to think about...