Be Made Right

Reading the Psalms in the Message version. Just love the way they it

‘You get us ready for life: you probe for our soft spots, you knock off our rough edges. And I’m feeling so fit, so safe; made right, kept right’. [Psalm 7:9-10]

I am so glad that it’s not just my responsibility to get my life ready.
I am so glad that God knows what He is doing with me.
He is more than capable of changing me than I am of changing me. And change is definitely needed.
And when He does, it is to get me right, to get me ready, to shape me. It’s not always pretty but it’s what is needed.

But look…the benefits are immense.
God makes me fit, God makes me safe, God makes me right, God keeps me right.

How To Walk Into Your Future…Pt3

Final instalment of the message I preached across Xcel Church recently as part of our Flash Forward Series…check out Pt1 & Pt2.

When it comes to walking into our futures, with God at the centre of that future, then we need to be walking into it in a certain manner.

Changing
Whatever your future may hold I hope that you will be different? You NEED to CHANGE

New years are opportunities for you to reflect but also look ahead and decide today that you will not be the same this time next year. That you will be closer to God, that you will have worked on your spiritual disciplines, that you will have changed in your relationship with God.

Hebrews 5:12-14
‘For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil’.

If you are expecting God to do great things with your life then you need to change, I need to change. Part of its God, part of its MY RESPONSIBILITY. We should be showing signs of growth and maturity.

Here are the difficult questions…
How are you changing?
Are you still needing to be taught the same things?
Why haven’t you moved on and started to pass on what you know to others?
What will you do to change this year?
How about a Personal Development Plan?
How about a Bible reading plan?

Consistency
You cannot build a great life in a hurry. Too many people can live for a moment but we are called to live out a great life – to build for a lifetime, to leave a legacy. As a leader I have seen many people come & go – people who were full of potential but could not wait, could not build slowly.

Consistency = the state or quality of holding or sticking together and retaining shape- doing the right thing at the right time as often as you can – that’s what God is looking for. It can seem humdrum but its vital.

Matthew 7:24-27
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

Building consistently & deliberately makes you strong, which means you will stand. Which means you will be around to take up the opportunities that God brings your way. Don’t be like some who are ALL FLASH BUT NO FORWARD.

Anyone can build something for a moment, look good for a moment but it seems that not everyone can be bothered to build something over the long haul. BE BOTHERED. You have more time than you think!!

Challenged
Don’t know what you think your future will be but to become all that you want to become for God – make space for him to move in your world. You cannot live out your Christian walk on positive thinking, leadership development & motivational seminars alone – you need God to move in your life.

Put something in your way that only God can meet. Pastor Matthew Barnett calls it ‘miracle space’. Make some. Pray like your life depends on it. Believe. Fast. Don’t give up. Be expectant of God doing something.

Your future in God is there for the taking.
Make sure you do all you can to stay ‘locked on’ to that destiny and not miss out.

[Let me know what you think]

Emergency Change Required

[Beware reading this post: this is one of those posts that may seriously confront you. It did me and I wrote it].

Every day we all do things.
We live life, make decisions, interact with people, use our time, complete tasks, think, chill, the list is endless.

What have you done today?

Everything you do leaves a mark.
It makes a difference. Even though you may not see it physically – every action creates a reaction. Your being somewhere, doing something, meeting someone, not meeting someone, your readiness to take a hold of opportunities or ignore them or just not even see them – they ALL leave a mark.

The apostle Paul said it like this ‘For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.’ What’s your smell like? How do people remember you?

Influence is an incredibly subtle thing.
We do it all the time without realising.
The danger with that is it may not always be the influence we imagine ourselves having.

Pastor John recently spoke about ‘repainting the landscape of Christianity in the region’. Incredible way to illustrate the potential we have. The INFLUENCE we can have as Xcel Church. Everything we do then is a part of that painting. Both as a Church but also as an individual. Our potential influence is wrapped up inside EVERYTHING we do.

Everyday you paint a picture of who you are…
Your actions.
Your lack of actions.
Your reactions.
Your words.
Your lifestyle choices.

Each one describes you. Each one shows who you really are to the world around you. Each one shows what is important to you and how you are living life at any given moment. And every day many of us tell the world and in so doing, lose our right to influence to our full potential.

How…well, forget the normal people interactions you have and just checkout your FACEBOOK & TWITTER profiles. We paint a picture that we would never have painted years ago. Full of mixed messages, negativity, lifestyle habits, choices, just plain weird stuff. They all paint a picture of you and it’s not always a great picture.

To be influential you have to be deliberate. You have to think about what you are doing and the impact that it could have. I want to do great things for God and I’m sure you do to but if we cannot manage our own lives well, why do we think God should entrust others to us as well. This is dangerous stuff to write but we are being challenged now to RISE TO THE OCCASION.

‘Everything is permissible but not everything is good for me’ [1 Cor 6:12]. It might be legal but how does it make you look? How does it make God look? What difference might it make to someone who then comes into church and sees you?

Where do you need an emergency change?
Where do you need a lifestyle x-ray to take place?
Where do you need to build some consistency into your life to increase your potenial to INFLUENCE people and be the ‘life-giving’ fragrance of God in their lives?

Interesting. Don’t hesitate.

No More Drift

Drift.

Easily done. You know, how you get ‘out of the habit’ of doing something. It’s not even a conscious thing, it just happens. Thankfully now I recognise it more quickly, and act on that recognition more quickly too. I guess that’s the key.

Most people know they need to change something.
Unfortunately, most people don’t ACT on the need to change something.

Getting ‘back on track’ is not as easy as drifting. Maybe drifting is default mode while staying on the right track is by design. Design occurs by choice, not by chance. So, today was a drift stopping day!! Alarm set, up and into some time with God.

Days always feel better for me when I have started it right. Don’t know what that is for you. Starting right for me is with God…a few verses, some worship, shake off the rubbish, get in the position that I should be in, call on God, pour out my heart, confess, pray into the day, the family, situations, dreams, vision, for others [not necessarily in that order] but I think you catch what I’m saying.

Jesus said ‘seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’. The things are the stuff of life, God knows that you need them. Aware that I wasn’t doing that enough recently.

How to stop the drift in your life…
1. Choose to [don’t wait, just choose]
2. Design it [for me, to get up early means going to bed earlier]
3. Respond to it [get up, do the thing you need to do]
4. Continue in it [one day does not stop drift]
5. Enjoy the blessing of doing it [not out of duty but from a place of devotion to your God]

What do you need to do to stop the drift?

Lean In, Back Off…Just Don’t Do Nothing!

Cannot get this simple thought out of my head.

After reading Tribes by Seth Godin I cannot shake his assertion that leaders must either LEAN IN or BACK OFF. The one thing they CHOOSE to not do is NOTHING!

This is certainly a challenge to all of us – not just those of us in leadership positions. We all have the potential to influence our surroundings. The change comes by us doing something intentional not nothing.

QUESTION: What to LEAN IN to?
I have many ambitions – to achieve them I need to LEAN IN more. Become more purposeful in my actions. Make sure I do at least one thing each day that relates to the change I want to see – for me these include
Spending time with my wife
Investing time with my children
Growing people
Coaching business
Development of leadership training initiatives
Reading, writing

QUESTION: What to BACK OFF from?
To be successful means for every addition something has to give way.
Late nights
Removing some distractions
Laziness, procrastination and the like
Some specific stuff…

The big thing is to not do nothing. The future is full of potential which will be achieved by LEANING IN tothe right stuff, BACKING OFF the wrong stuff and getting on with doing all the things you must do. Simple!

[What do you LEAN IN to?]
[What must you BACK OFF from?]

Book Review: Tribes by Seth Godin

51mTG68Tj7L._SL160_AA115_ Reading a book by Seth Godin always challenges the thinking process. I am definitely challenged. For as much as the author says some may not like the book, the way it is written – I love the style. It’s somewhat like a bunch of random thoughts on a subject, simple thoughts but extremely profound.

When I read I am always looking at how it can help. I am looking for some nuggets that open up new opportunities, new thoughts for bringing change. This book has certainly done that. So:thinking Church for a moment: the ‘tribe’ that I Pastor as part of Xcel Church and the movement we have the potential to make..here’s what made me think…

The Anatomy of a Movement: motivate, connect, leverage. [Don’t just do the third]
What is the ‘status quo’ when it comes to Church? How can we change that? [That gives us the chance to be remarkable]
If you’re not uncomfortable in your work as a leader, it’s almost certain you’re not reaching your potential as a leader. It’s the discomfort that creates the leverage that makes leadership worthwhile.
‘Lean in, back off BUT don’t do nothing. Leaders choose to not do nothing. [This has pushed me already. What do I do? I must ‘lean in’ to it more]
The art of leadership is understanding what you CAN’T compromise on.

The book has made me question: what is the vacuum that we could fill?
It will take INITIATIVE.
It will take STANDING AGAINST THE RESISTANCE that those who love the STATUS QUO will bring.
It means doing things that others are NOT DOING.
It often takes a SUBTLE TWIST on an old-favourite.
It takes BRAVERY.

I hope I’m not wrong in my understanding of the theme of this book:
anyone can lead. everyone should lead. anyone can bring change. few do though because of the fear & resistance. playing it safe is just as risky, if not moreso than taking a risk.

For Xcel Darlo: Come on – we cannot afford to play it safe.
[What can we do? Where can we go? Who can we reach?]

Leaders: you should read this book. Get your copy here.

I’m no expert reviewer but here are my thoughts on other Seth Godin books
The Dip
Meatball Sundae

Live With a Long Term Strategy…

‘We may not need as much church planting if we had more church cultivators’.

This came from someone I follow on twitter. It certainly gets you thinking. And I responded too.

‘Do you not think though it’s easier to plant than it is to cultivate/care for & grow something’. I can relate to this. I can plant flowers but I cannot grow them. Not like my dad – he is a gardener, takes cuttings, pots them, cultivates them in the greenhouse, feeds, waters, grows them, then plants them in the flowerbed.

Such action takes time.
Such action takes dedication.
Such action takes thought.
I guess you have some failures along the way too.

Maybe that’s why people opt for Christianity-lite. The No-Frills type which demands only a little but will produce a lot. Think I’m learning that it doesn’t work that way. To be a cultivator is definitely a long-term strategy not a short term one. There is no ‘miracle-grow’ formula – just the usual, old-fashioned, dare I say forgotten aspects…getting on your knees, praying like peoples lives depend on those prayers, connecting, fighting for people – all the non-glamourous stuff.

Some of us love to plant seed.
Fewer though like to put the effort in required to grow the seed.
We all love to see the full bloom though – we can all appreciate that.
Challenge is you can’t have one without the other.

When it comes to people – well the effort can seem endless. It can seem pointless at times too. Investing what you know into another individual not knowing when anything may flourish. It can be frustrating, messy, hard work – even demoralising at times. Key is to remember – that as we play our part – as we plant, as we water – it is ‘God who brings the increase’. The rewards are incredible and make the sacrifices so worthwhile – nothing beats a changed life! Especially a God-changed life!

Hope my jumbled thoughts makes some sense. I have a real desire to be a grower not just a planter. How about you?

Your Christian Journey

I set myself the challenge for 90 days – rising early to pray & seek God. Here are my thoughts as it heads towards day 90…

…90 days is a LONG time
…it’s TOUGH to keep the disciplines going
…believing for BREAKTHROUGH is exciting
…recognising the breakthrough when it COMES is not always easy
…prayer WORKS
…loving reading the Word at the moment – incredible how often it speaks to you the right word at the right time
…change is often a necessity to see breakthrough become a REALITY
…the walk is just that, a walk – NOT a sprint
…one breakthrough is NEVER enough – I’m learning that I should always be believing for something
…stretching your faith HURTS
…where I am at with God IMPACTS every aspect of my life
…holding onto my INTEGRITY is an essential element to gaining breakthrough
…KEEP tight with God
…enjoy the JOURNEY, otherwise what’s the point!

How is your journey going at the moment?
Seen any breakthroughs recently?