The 19 Project: An Update

2 great things have happened this week…

Firstly, my book ’19’ will be released on the 27th October. This is a book for leaders of all ages but very much to those beginning on their leadership journey. I was 19 when I was given my first introduction to leadership, becoming the leader of the local church youth group.

Now, 28 years later, I am still leading in local church, and I am passing on what I have learned along the way. Things I know any young leader will need to learn so they can still be leading in 25 years time.

Secondly, the website The 19 Project is live. Very much coming from the premise of the book and my desire to help resource and raise the  next generation of young leaders, my hope is the site will become a hub of useful articles, free resource and eventually offer access to live Q&A’s, training material, connection with other leaders, and much more.

You can join The 19 Project and help to shape it for the future. It’s free. When you do this, you will be able to download a free chapter of the book, pre-order it at a discounted rate and take a quick survey to provide some initial feedback on the site.

Thanks for the support along the way. Not sure what is going to happen with this site but why not come over to The 19 Project now and stay in touch with all that is happening over there. You can find me on Facebook too. Click on the links below…

The 19 Project Website

The 19 Project Facebook

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Who Are We Taking With Us?

The currency of heaven may be many things but in my opinion, faith and people are at the top of the list.

The Bible tells us without faith it is impossible to please God. Add to this the greatest of treasures we can store up in heaven, people, and we are on a winner. Begs the question then, as we work out our faith in Jesus, who am are taking with us?

Joshua and Caleb entered the promised land, eventually. They had to wait what may have seemed like forever, 40 years, for the moment to finally arrive. Yet they entered with the same focus and determination they had when the first opportunity had been provided them. More importantly though, they didn’t just enter for themselves, they took the next generation in with them.

These two men demonstrate 3 simple but extremely powerful qualities which in the busy way of life can so easily get lost.

TO WALK WELL WITH GOD

TO POINT PEOPLE TO JESUS

TO NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF GOD’S PROMISES

I watched an episode of Ambulance on BBC yesterday. The people being served were normal, every day people but they were broken people, some in desperate situations, others needing care, friendship, conversation, or even just someone to make them a cup of tea. Their stories were captivating and they stirred my heart.

Questions came flooding in.

Who am I taking with me?
How is my walk with God influencing the lives of those around me?
How is my people focus?
If my life is supposed to point people to Jesus, is it working?

This has to be the greatest of challenges for all Christians. We do well, we don’t do well. So maybe we need to be more vigilant. Is our belief coming through in how we live?

So here are some ‘top tips’ (for want of a better phrase) which I am committing myself to work on over the next few months and the rest of my life…

I will not let myself get bored with God.
I will work to keep my life pointed to Jesus.
I have to sharpen my people focus. To see people.
I won’t allow myself to become so easily frustrated with Gods ways.
I will always have people I want to take with me.

So who are we praying for, not preaching too? Who are we listening to, not just their voice but their heart too? Where are the opportunities to serve, not only ourselves but others too?

Maybe then, as we live out our faith in Jesus we will almost inadvertently be taking some people with us. And that will be AMAZING!!

Share your thoughts. Why do you think this is such a big challenge for us?

Walk With God: According to His Word

Then Mary said…. ‘Let it be to me according to your word’. [Luke 1:38]

Isn’t this the battleground we so often find ourselves in with God. My word versus His word. My desire to have control versus giving God permission to have control.

Walking with God well is possibly only about one thing, centred around adopting the same attitude and heart Mary so easily demonstrates. In fact, there are 3 things Mary does so well…

She has a willingness to serve. Let’s be honest the Bible reads so calm sometimes. Surely she was a little freaked out when an angel appears and tells her what’s about to happen. Or maybe she really was that calm. Ready to serve, ready to hear God’s word, ready to respond.

She accepts God’s Word. Let it be to me, just as you have said. Amazing. Mary is amazing. This is not your average request God is making here, this is a world-changing moment. Ready to trust God, ready to let Him bring to pass what He has spoken, ready to respond with a yes, no questions asked.

She remembers to magnify the Lord. There is no panic shown by Mary, just thankfulness and rejoicing. God has moved miraculously in her life and in the life of her relative Elizabeth. She was able to notice that God was most definitely up to something. Ready to praise, ready to see what God was doing in her own life, ready to see the difference He was about to make in the world.

I desire this kind of walk with God. There is great power in the simple faith Mary shows us. It wasn’t complicated to her that God would ask something of her. This was not about looking only for great things from God. This was about being willing and obedient. You get the feeling whatever the request had been it would have received the same response ‘Let it be to me according to your word’.

Let’s take a moment today to reflect on our own walk with God and how well these three things Mary did are demonstrated in our lives.

Lead Well: Work on Our Character

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. [Proverbs 6:12-19]

Nobody wants to be known as someone with bad character, yet this is the state many of us find ourselves in, if only for the lack of a little focus and intentionality. Such a state  brings calamity, demotion and in reality means people don’t want to hang around us.

Good character is not our default position.
Good character comes through purposeful design.

Think about it. We are inherently selfish. We give most of our attention to ourselves. We want to make sure we have what we want, not just what we need. We will bump people out of the way to make a way. We expect as much as possible for as little as possible. We praise and curse with the same mouth. The list of our character flaws is probably endless.

I have learned this lesson by getting it right and getting it wrong. Through awkward conversations and times of confrontation by people who care for me. I have discovered that to lead well in life is to be watchful and protective of the right kind of character. And such watchfulness takes concentration and effort. Start by avoiding the list of those things which don’t look good from Gods point of view…

Pride.
Lying.
Killing people.
Scheming.
Quick to do wrong things.
False witness towards others.
Bringing discord.

Then remember how Jesus took the standard higher on many of these in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6 & 7. Let’s be honest, we all have our weaknesses, those unredeemed aspects of our personality which we can use to quickly blame our words and actions on.

Instead let’s be those who are different. Living by design. Who lead well. Are above reproach. Live a life worthy of the calling to which you are called. Honour God in all things. Watch. Be alert. Sin and temptation are always at the door. Stay focused on Jesus. Keep your eyes on Him. Don’t allow yourself to drift. Hold fast your confession of faith. Do not be afraid. Repent quickly.

Walk With God: Impossible Made Possible

A few years ago Honda had an advertising campaign all about making the impossible possible. It was innovative, creative and definitely caught your attention.

Dare I suggest that such a strap line could be used by God. He is all about ‘the impossible being made possible’. He is innovative, creative and definitely good at catching our attention.

For nothing will be impossible with God [Luke 1:37]

When those who can’t have children start having children, the impossible is being made possible. When God uses a young woman to bring the Saviour of the world into existence, the impossible is being made possible. And that was just the start.

Read through the Gospels and you discover moment after moment of impossibles being made possibles. Water into wine. Lame start to walk. Blind get their sight. Dead people being raised. People healed and in put in their right mind. Walking on water. Storms calmed. Multiples fed with a kids lunch. The worst of sinners forgiven. Religion put in its place.

Jesus laying down His life for us. His death for our new life. Transformational moments. Impossible made possible.

Then you examine your own walk with God and see His handprints all over it. God making moves behind the scenes. Creating opportunities. Bringing about His providential plan.

When I reflect I can see where He has moved the pieces. If certain things which I could not make happen had not happened I would not be where I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I was complicit in some of the actions but not in the final outcomes. God working out things from my indiscretions, for my good. Impossible made possible.

That is the God I walk with every day. So I should not be surprised when surprises occur. Maybe in my head I see the pleasure He takes in doing some stuff, a little glint in His eye as He speaks to me saying, ‘You didn’t see that coming, did you?’

Where have you seen the impossible made possible by God in your life?

Build Church: Know Your Comfort Zone

Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace [Matthew 28:29 Message]

There’s a lot of talk about getting out of your comfort zone and I get that. We fill our days with so much stuff which in reality is of no eternal purpose, both individually in our Christian life and corporately as the body of Christ. We are very comfortable in our faith.

A better focus might be to know our comfort zone. To learn the unforced rhythms of grace Jesus wants to walk and work with us in. To find our best fit. To discover our unique calling and to then ride this wave with all of our effort and determination.

Anyone who know me well enough should know that after Jesus, other than my family, there are two main things which have my heart – raising the next generation of leaders and building local church. I am on the journey of discovery still, even after so many years that to be fruitful for God in both of these will no doubt involve the following…

To get into my zone I first have to get out of my comfort.

I have to give the Holy Spirit permission to convict me to move me.

Once I am in the zone, only I am the one responsible for putting the right kind of effort in to it.

To bear the best kind of fruit, the God-given destiny kind of fruit, my life has to be about more than just the fruit of my own labours.

I am not there yet. Let’s be honest, there have been good days and not so good days. I have frustrations. Yet the only person getting in the way of me building anything of eternal significance with my life is me. So best get over myself, repent, remind myself that my preferences are for laying down and just get on doing what it is I feel God is asking me to do.

Lead Well: 5 Ways to Best Face the Challenge of Life

My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”– my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths [Proverbs 1:10-15]

Life is a challenge. I would go as far to say that life is one long test. Things go well, things don’t go so well. Good days and other days.

I have made big mistakes which have had little or no impact on me, while other smaller, daft ones, have had the potential to cause major consequences. You just don’t know sometimes.

The challenge then becomes about protect yourself. To protect your future. To protect the God-given future. It doesn’t mean doing nothing and taking no risks. Verses like these in Proverbs have helped me to create some non-negotiables for how I travel, make decisions and walk with God through life.

Do not consent. Stay strong. Learn to say NO. There are some things which I should just not agree to.

Be alert to ambush. Keep an eye out for what’s going on around you. Call them boundaries, guardrails, whatever. Put them in place, they will keep you from getting caught out.

Stay away from the place of danger. Don’t go to those places where temptation may be too strong. It’s too easy to justify our behaviour sometimes but ultimately it only hurts us.

The crowd is not always right. This may be the message of the world but we are not meant to just go with the way of the world. It doesn’t matter everyone else is doing it or even that society says it’s ok. Do what is right because it is the right thing to do.

Hold back when appropriate. Take a moment. Look. Really look. Fools do rush in. It can be difficult but learn to wait for Gods lead.

All with the power of the Holy Spirit helping you too. This is the adventure of leading well in life. Go for it!

Would you add anything else to the list of non-negotiables?