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.

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Walk With God: Wholeness 3.0

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. [Philippians 1:21 ESV]

If WHOLE 1.0 can be described as the time we would speak of being whole but only through the accumulation of those things which could make us feel more significant, secure and accepted. Temporary stuff like the right job, the right partner, the right title, the right house filled with all the right material items or that people just like us.

The challenge with wholeness is that when life takes a bite out of us or any of these are lost, where will our sense of wholeness come from then. The only thing that truly satisfies us and makes us WHOLE is the acknowledgement that none of the above do and only God can.

Then we begin the journey from WHOLE 1.0 to WHOLE 2.0. We add to our basic faith as we walk with God through life. We gain from our experiences and from the answers to those difficult questions. We add some spiritual knowledge, some self-control, some perseverance, some godliness, some kindness and some love. [2 Peter 1:5-9]

If I’m honest, wholeness to me can still be about what I accomplish or achieve. It can be centred around how people view me and whether I am admired for who I am and what I do. It can be about filling life with the right kind of things.

Yet the Apostle Paul has a different measure. And this challenges me. I’m calling it WHOLE 3.0. His sense of wholeness came from a place where the only measure for a WHOLE life was Jesus. The ability to see he would be WHOLE in life and WHOLE in death.

It was not about accomplishment unless it was in respect of what he got to do for Jesus and to extend the kingdom of God.

It was not about recognition except to do everything always with the intention to bring glory to God.

It was not about how people saw him or about his reputation but instead was that more may come to accept Jesus as he kept on sharing the good news.

He deemed himself whole when he had much and when he had little. [Phil 4:12]

He deemed himself whole whether he would continue to live or whether he would die. [Phil 1:21]

He deemed himself whole just by living a life of righteousness. [Phil 2:14-15]

Where the desired fruit from my labour may, at times, be more earthly, Paul was always focused on advancing the kingdom for his precious Saviour, Jesus. His transformed life and sense of WHOLE impacted every aspect of the life he lived.

His goals were gospel focused.

His time was utilised on purpose.

His willingly served others.

His lived a righteous life.

He only wanted what he had. Jesus was more than enough.

He was present for every moment.

He focused on eternal values.

His inner peace remained strong despite the external pressures on him every day.

Dear God, help me to live a WHOLE life like this. Completely sold out for you, where all the other stuff really doesn’t matter. Where Jesus is more than enough. To be bust about kingdom purposes, every day. Amen

 

Walking With God: 5 Things to Help us ‘Go For The Prize’

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. [1 Corinthians 9:24-27]

At school we are taught that it was the taking part which mattered the most. [Thoughts like these surely only come from people who never won anything]. Yet right here in scripture we see Paul encouraging us to ‘go for the prize’, to ‘go for the win.’

Everybody can participate, yet only those with a certain set of characteristics actually win the prize

Jesus has set us up for the win already. Everything that could possibly hold us back as been nailed to the cross, the only restrictions are those we place on ourselves through lingering doubts and unbelief, or those spoken over us reminding us of our past, our shortcomings or the impossibility of success.

5 things which may just help us…

Know your race. We are not running for ourselves, we are running for Jesus. We are not running because we ‘have to’, instead this is a race we have ‘chosen’ to be part of.  When I was at school I was more a sprinter than a long distance runner so there was a difference when I ran the 100 metres as opposed to the one time I was asked to fill in for the 1500. One was my race and I ran thinking I could win, the other I ran thinking when will this be over, especially as I finished at least half a lap behind everyone else.

Run as if to win. Be determined. When you know you are running the right race for you then you can run as if to win. When it comes to the Christian faith, knowing what has been done for us, and the prize that awaits us, should give us enough motivation to run with the attitude of someone who already understands they are a winner.

Develop some self-control. Train hard, keep learning. This is the stuff we don’t like so much but its often in these small areas of discipline and hard work which influence the level of our success in any race. Prayer. Fasting. Worship. Reading the Word. Fight the good fight of faith. Each one build our stamina and ability to run well for the entirety of our journey with God.

Focus. Run with purpose. Always keep the bigger picture in view. We don’t run for ourselves, we are running for our Saviour. We are not competing to win a prize for our own sense of accomplishment but rather for a prize of greater value and importance. To hear the words of Jesus when we enter glory. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’.

Don’t disqualify yourself. Stay in the lanes. There may not be a need for any qualification to become a runner in this race but we can easily disqualify ourselves. Don’t run over people to get to your victory. The way we run is as important as the running itself.

Lets not be so focused on the finish line that we miss out on the opportunity to win along the way.

A better way to win is taking others across the finish line with you, which means always being on lookout for ways to help others join the race with us, as well helping those who are running alongside us to keep on running their race too.

How’s your attitude to the race? Still running ‘as if to win?’ Why not take some time out today and ask God to help you run your race well.

7 Things God Does That Help Me Flourish

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil;my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

This is such a beautiful portion of scripture. I think David articulates so well the benefits and rewards of knowing God and being in relationship with Him.

Let’s be honest, we are prone as human beings to strive for accomplishments, to get through challenges, to reach beyond ourselves,  to become something or someone. We often set high expectations on ourselves to achieve, to succeed, and to have a life that means something. Both are not necessarily wrong but without recognising the need for God in the midst of such striving and such high expectations, we may just cause stress, illness, frustration, resentment and hurt.

I am so glad for these six verses that so simply remind me that the best way accomplish or to really succeed is to give everything over to God and allow Him to take the lead. To align my life with Him and to give Him permission to do the following seven things…

He makes me
He leads me
He restores me
He guides me
He is with me
He prepares for me

He anoints me

I think these are all with the purpose of seeing me flourish. Helping me to grow. Placing me in the right environments at the right time to bring about the right results. I can do some of them myself and although I may think I know myself well, I am glad that I have a heavenly Father who knows me better. Who counts the very hairs on my head. Who has my name written on the palm of His hand. Who knitted me together in my mothers womb. Who will never leave me and who is always with me.

He does them. He needs to do them.  I just have to let Him. I struggle at that sometimes, so I have an easy prayer ~ Lord, help me be better at allowing You to lead and getting me, my thoughts, my emotions and my opinions out of the way so you can. Amen.

Am I Living a Wide Open Life?

This is my question as I reflect on the series that has just been preached at Xcel.

Believing in God brings me into a whole new world, a wide-open spacious life so the simplest of questions to ask myself is this ‘Am I REALLY living a wide-open life?’

Are we truly aware of what it means to live in the freedom that Christ won for us. I’m not sure I am. I think I am but with all the other influences in my world it’s difficult to tell. I am a believer who needs to live like I am believer. Not that I am not, it just might not be as much as it could be.

I cannot afford to live in the smallness of my own thinking, within the limits of what I know or even my experiences. It’s too easy to put constraints on myself and perhaps more dangerously it’s all too easy to put constraints on what God can do. Isn’t that the reason why Paul pleads for the Christians at Corinth to live in the wide-open spacious life due to it being the best place to live from.

I’m very aware at the moment that God is taking me on a journey and I am excited by it because it’s about knowing God better, knowing who I am in Christ better, exploring the wide-open spacious life and enjoying the adventure.

This is just me. What’s your refection?

Check out previous blogs based around this theme

No Turning Back

Don’t Go Under

Stay Close

I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness in the exuberant earth. Stay with GOD! Take heart. Don’t quit. I’ll say it again: Stay with GOD. (‭Psalm‬ ‭27‬:‭13-14‬ MSG)

We start out so passionately. Nothing will come between us and God. There is no gap. Not even a piece of paper would come between us. 

Stay with God. This has to be the rally cry of every Christian. Despite situations and circumstances we will stay with God. 

We drift away too easily. Stuff gets between us and God without any kind of resistance. Tough life issues I can understand. In fact things like sickness, loss, a tragedy or other major life decisions often bring us even closer to God. 

I get more concerned for myself and others at how we easily we shove other things between us and God. All good and important yet all quickly adding to a sense of separation. 

This is not about getting religious. It’s about having a willingness to be honest with ourselves and look at how easily we decide other things are more important than time with God. 

Why do we choose not to go to Church?
What do we give our best energies to?
Who in our life can come before God?
What fills our time when we say we have no time for God?

Stay close to God. Don’t quit. Or look like you have. None of these things mean we love God any less but 1° of separation can very quickly become 10° and before we know it we are not so close and we have begun to live at a distance from God which only makes it easier to deny Him, to stay away and disconnect. 

I’m doing an honest check up so that I stay close. Why don’t we all do the same.