Christmas is Family

Christmas is Family.

It’s about time spent with your own family.

It’s about remembering family who cannot be with us or who no longer are.

It’s about creating a sense of family by making the effort to include those who otherwise would be on their own.

It’s about God intervening and working on the solution in such an unexpected way so we could be included in His family.

It’s Father God and His Son Jesus making their home with us, choosing to deal with the divide between us and inviting us to join with them.

Whatever your own family circumstances this ultimate ‘family’ invitation still remains open. Why not step in this Christmas and become a part of the greatest family, God’s.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” [‭‭John‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭NIV]

Jesus Was the Bigger Person

grow-bigger-001-001To be salt and light is to be like Jesus. Look at his dealings with people and you will see what I mean. Jesus was always the bigger person.

In Luke 19 Jesus is passing through Jericho. Crowds come to see him. So much so that every vantage point needed to be taken. For a small guy like Zacchaeus this meant to catch a glimpse of this great teacher, climbing a tree would be the order of the day. Now climbing a tree can be a tough enough job at the best of times but wearing a tunic, surely this just complicates things.

In position and watching Jesus interact with the crowd, the last thing Zacchaeus expects is for Jesus to notice him, speak to him and most definitely not to invite himself round to his house.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector, the despised and rejected of the day. He would be known for taking what was due for the Romans and always a portion for himself. He lived well, but probably had few or no friends.

What a day then when the Rabbi invites himself to visit. Most people wouldn’t have even given him the time of day. Some would just want to punch or spit on him. But not Jesus.

Imagine the situation in John 8 when a woman is thrown in front of Jesus having been caught in the act of adultery. ‘She is guilty’ is the cry from her accusers. Watch Jesus. He is slow to comment, maybe collecting his thoughts before he speaks. He doesn’t condemn, he doesn’t judge, instead he his compassionate, insightful, full of grace and truth.

Being salt and light offered both recipients turn-around moments. Sin is acknowledged and then covered with grace. A new life opportunity with one instruction encouraging them to ‘make things right’ and ‘sin no more’. Salt & light.

To forgive when others would condemn takes a bigger person.

To include when others would exclude takes a bigger person.

To notice when others don’t takes a bigger person.

To be inconvenienced when others prefer ease and comfort, takes a bigger person.

This is a challenge. In a world where we are taught to be concerned about ourselves, to look out for ‘number one’ anything like these things mentioned above can only come from being the bigger person. And a lot of that bigness can only truly come when we invite Jesus in, to make our lives bigger and big enough to act in such a different way.

Let’s take time this Christmas and be ready and willing to grow and become the bigger person Jesus needs us to be.

7 Kingdom Thoughts

Been reflecting today on all we’ve been talking about in respect of the Kingdom of God, what it is but more importantly, how it should impact our lives. 

1. Living like a Kingdom person isn’t easy. 

2. Just because I’m a Kingdom person doesn’t mean I’m perfect. But I’m on that journey like all of us. Some stuff takes time. Israel came out of Egypt in a day but it took a generation to get Egypt out of Israel. 

3. If I’m letting people know that I am a Christian, and therefore by decision, a Kingdom person, I better do my best at not making a hash of it. 

4. Kingdom people wear the badge of grace with honour understanding that without the grace of God we are nothing. We are careful not to wear the badge of lifestyle, pity, bad behaviour, self-righteousness or anything else with the same kind of honour we should be giving to God. 

5. We are now writing our Kingdom story, one which is being added to all the Kingdom stories written by individuals before us, including Jesus. 

6. To be a Kingdom citizen is to make Jesus is King of my life, which means that I no longer am. 

7. Wondering what is stopping me from actually living like the Kingdom of God stuff is true, real and works? What if I lived like God is good, wants the best for me and is most definitely on my side?

Just my thoughts and I am certainly challenged by all that we are teaching and speaking about at the moment. One simple thing I have learned is this: the first and most important walk with God I need to give my attention to is my walk with God.

If you are part of Xcel Church, what have you been learning from this Kingdom series?

7 Monday Morning Thoughts

A new day, a new working week.

After a fantastic Sunday and weekend with family and friends, Monday’s can hit us in the face. If we are not careful, we can feel defeated before we have even started. So here are 7 Monday morning thoughts to help us get the most of this week…

Get some time with God. Read your Bible. Hear what God is saying.

Thank God for what He is doing and invite Him in to all that will come your way this week. Pray.

Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. 

Put the big rocks for the week in first. Make it God, family then church. Some simple organising creates space for some creativity.

Keep your soul healthy. Do something fun and not related to your work.

 From a work point of view, make a list of some things you want to get done this week. 

Go for a walk. Get some fresh air. It clears the head and gives you some time to think too.

What would you add to this list?

Leading Well in Life: Celebrate

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How are we doing today?

Are we making any progress on the goals we set when there was just 80 days until 2017? This is what I wrote back then about leading well in life…

Here’s what’s coming…

…a new site, with posts focused on what I know and what I see – leading well in life, making a difference, building local church, walking with God and other stuff too.

…a place of encouragement, answered questions, resources and some challenge along the way too

…giveaways, book reviews and more interaction with those who happen to pass by these pages.

I’ve even managed to finish a one month devotional which I aim to launch as soon as I can and the Leadership book is almost completed too. This is not to boast, more to make myself accountable to you.

Wherever we have got to it is important that along the way we celebrate the journey. I can look at these statements and be frustrated but I can also see that I have managed to get a little further with them too which puts a smile on my face.

The books are out for editorial suggestions. I surprised myself and asked some well-known church leaders to contribute to the book, and have even had some replies. What they have written will add a different aspect to the book and I am really happy with that.

The publishing journey never moves as fast as you would like but the aim is to send the leadership book ’19’ to the publisher in January 2017. Some kind of crowd funding project may come soon to help bring this dream to reality.

So how is your journey shaping out? Let’s not just look at what we haven’t managed to accomplish but rather notice where we have made progress. It will never be as much as may have wanted but hopefully it’s something.

Keep plugging away. Check out the previous posts in this series too.

Breakthrough moments

Setbacks

The Right People

Be Determined

Don’t Break the Chain

 

How Can I Help You Best?

You read my blog, some of you even know me personally, so I am asking you a question, one that could just help me shape the pages of this blog for the future.

Allowing for how well you know me or what you have read here – what do I know? If you were coming to me for something, what would it be? What problems would you come to me to for help? If you had a question, what would it be about?

I would value your feedback. Please complete the simple 3 question survey by clicking on the link below…

How Can I Help You Best?

Thanks for helping me as I look to make changes to this site of the next few weeks.

Thirst

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.”[Psalms‬ ‭42:1‬ ‭ESV]

To thirst is have a strong desire for something. It’s actually a natural thing, how we were created in the first place. 

For the deer it was water. Without a flowing stream it would die so it thirsts for water.

It is the same for us, we thirst for water or we will eventually die but the parallel drawn here in the Psalm is that in the same way a deer would just naturally thirst for a stream, we naturally thirst for God. 

In simple terms ~ that we would want all that God has for us knowing it’s the only way out soul is truly filled. 

Those who hunger and thirst…..will be filled (Matthew 5). 

Other things may satisfy for a moment but only God can satisfy completely. 

It’s very hot and humid at the moment where I live. You wake up in the night feeling uncomfortable from the heat and needing a drink. A sip of water makes all the difference. 

Let’s do the same for our souls and drink of the life-giving water so we remain refreshed and full of life, don’t stay thirsty, God has an abundant supply for us all to receive from. 

Let’s thirst and be filled. 

Upheld By Integrity

Integrity can be hard won but easily lost.

In todays throw-away culture it doesn’t seem to carry the same value as it once did. When tolerance and acceptance are the by-words, alongside anything goes, it could be argued by some that integrity is just an old-fashioned and out-dated idea and we don’t even need to try to maintain our integrity anymore.

I think we should.

I have written about integrity before. In leadership I think integrity is priceless. It sets us apart from the crowd and will protect us too. But…there is a catch…

  • Integrity takes time.
  • Integrity has a cost.
  • Integrity covers everything.
  • Integrity is a choice.
  • Integrity is a personal discipline.

I can’t make you a person of integrity, I can only sell you the benefits of no skeletons in the cupboard, no awkward conversations, no moments of indecision, no double-mindedness, no more living two different lives.

Integrity helps make sure our yes is yes and our no is a no. It creates boundary lines for our life and how we will live within them are set when we have integrity. We know who we are and other choices have to line up. It doesn’t mean we don’t care about others but it does mean sometimes what we care about has to come first.

Integrity comes from our why and it influences our what and our how. The why of my life is built on my Christian faith and the lifestyle that Jesus asks me to live out. I want my life to be whole and complete, in line with the word of God, thereby helping me maintain my integrity.

When it comes to walking with God, it holds great value too. Just check out this promise…

But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. [Psalm 41:12 ESV]

While people may shout us down, while circumstances may be against us, while trouble may hit us from different sides, it is our integrity which gets us noticed by God.

It protects us. Keeps us alive. We are blessed and sustained because of it. We are restored. Enemies will not triumph over us. This is a promise to hold on to. The next time you are tempted to neglect what you are doing and compromise your integrity, think again – with our integrity intact we are set in His presence forever. Losing that is too big a risk for me.