Eagerness or Excuses

In scripture we find a verse that tells us ‘if you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land‘. [Isaiah 1:19] 

Unfortunately the culture of today is often more unwilling and disobedient. We want to work less for more pay. We want to pay less tax but gain more benefits. We want to receive without contributing. We want a great future without all the effort.

John Maxwell tells the story about a young man asking a millionaire about his secret to success. ‘How did you make your millions?‘ is the question from the eager young man. ‘Hard work’ is the reply. After a moment the young man asks another question, ‘Is there an easier way?’

We want it and we want it now, yet I’ve learned that God doesn’t really work like that. We may have an eagerness for the things of God yet we seem unwilling to exert any effort on our own behalf. We expect God or someone else to do all the work.

We are willing but not obedient. Which means we don’t get to enjoy the good place we really want to be in. We are eager for the future plans and purposes of God but have a long list of excuses as to why it just can’t happen. And that makes me sad.

I am guilty of this myself, more times than I care to remember. Laziness. Procrastination. Ignorance. Pathetic excuses like ‘I’ve got no time’, yet I find time for some stuff that must make God laugh (otherwise He might cry).

Eagerness + excuses usual equals unfulfilled dreams, plans and purposes.

Willingness + no obedience equals not ending up in the good land that God has for me.

An unwillingness to pray means God cannot answer. One thing I know the best way to have prayer unanswered is to not actually pray. An unwillingness to act means the project, the dream, the idea will never happen. To many say ‘God said’ but then never follow through with any movement of their own.

God doesn’t need to change, we do, I do. The question is whether I am willing to. Can I, with Gods help and the Holy Spirit within me, overcome the daft reasons and obstacles so I live out His best for my life? The answer of course is a wholehearted yes, but only if the willingness is followed by some action, if the eagerness is not followed by excuses.

I would love to know what you think…

What’s Your Role?

There is a vision to be gone after. It’s big enough for everyone to be a part of. There is room enough for all of us to flourish. Yet it just doesn’t seem to be happening. It doesn’t seem to be getting any closer.

Question: what are we bringing to the table? How are we adding value? What is our contribution to make the picture complete?

It’s not always about having a stated role. In fact in most case it’s not about title. What’s my role is less about title and more about the person I am. It’s not enough to just make up the numbers. Maybe my role to aid the vision is about WHO I AM when I show up.

Attitude

Heart

Commitment

Flexibility

Compromise

A willingness to work

Able to lead and when needed, to be led

Availability

Integrity

Less fussiness on my part

Loyalty

Faith

These are choice on my part. However, my desire for ‘a role’ can often get in the way of me just being a person God can use to get ‘whatever’ needs doing, done. Am I fulfilling my role? Am I bringing the right kind of character to the table?

What would you say that you bring?

Slow & Steady

Starting a new year always brings that talk of resolutions, goal setting, of heading into what can be your ‘best year yet’. Here’s my simple thought for 2013…

‘slow & steady wins the race’

Seth Godin calls it the ‘drip’. God calls it ‘waiting’.

Don’t be in a hurry to get where you think God wants you to be, that can often lead to a place of our own choosing. By all means have some plans, but allow God to lead and order the steps so you end up where He needs you to be. God is rarely in a hurry. Let’s be about building a lifetime not just a moment.

Time for a Change…

September is VISION MONTH at Xcel Church. I think it happens at a lot of churches around the world. Not that we don’t look ahead at other times but it does provide a great opportunity for us to stop, reflect, think & plan for the next 12 months.

This process can work for any organisation, church or otherwise.
This process can work for YOU as an individual too.

If you don’t take time to STOP, REFLECT, THINK & PLAN then don’t complain when life gets shaped for you by other people, circumstances and events. Fresh vision doesn’t happen by chance. It comes through deliberate action.

STOP. Too many people STOP FOR NOTHING.
Pause for thought. Make time. Being busy is not necessarily a sign of accomplishment. We are all getting things done but they might not always be the right things.

REFLECT. Am I happy? Do I need to change things? What could I do to see different results? Vision isn’t always about some new idea or invention. Often vision comes from a place of discontent. Unhappiness = need for fresh vision, new insight.

‘Vision is the cure for sin. A God-given vision keeps us from decay and disorder. It energises everything we do’. [Mark Batterson, Primal]

In fact the Bible tells us that people without vision will perish. So STOP, REFLECT – take a good look at what you are doing & where you heading. Are you living? Are you perishing? Your vision (or lack of vision) might be the issue.

THINK. Dare I suggest that as a Christian – pray. Seek God. Read the Word. Allow for some spiritual insight into stuff. Make room for creative thinking time. Ask the right people the right kind of questions.

‘Prayer is the mechanism whereby God ideas are conceived and captured. And it’s our capacity for prayer that will ultimately determine our creative potential.’ [Mark Batterson, Primal]

PLAN. People think that plans & goals are unspiritual, too business like for them. Jesus had an end goal in mind & I am forever grateful that he kept it in mind. THINK about the future. Set some goals. Make a plan. Work toward those plans.

‘Ideas are worthless. Intentions have no power. Plans are nothing…unless they are followed with action’. [John Maxwell]

So, what’s the vision?
Will you make time to STOP?
Will you be honest with yourself as you REFLECT?
Will you allow God to speak to you as you take time to THINK?
Will you make a fresh PLAN for the future?

WHAT’S YOUR VISION?
Share below…

[Quick footnote: be realistic while making space for God to move. No need to be foolish]

How To Walk Into Your Future – Pt1

Shared these thoughts last Sunday as my first venture into our new Preaching Series at Xcel Church about walking into our ‘flashforwards’. Whatever we see in our future – the best part about it is that we can have God right at the centre of it. This means we should be walking ahead…

Confidently
This is a confidence not based on getting the answers we want all the time but based on the knowledge that God will do what is right for us. The two invariably are not always the same. We may not always know our own thoughts on things but God is never uncertain. His thoughts are always working towards the expected end.

As Jeremiah 29:11 says ‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.

God wants us to be able to move ahead with confidence. By His grace & Holy Spirit he directs the thoughts, affections & designs of all. We can take confident steps into our future knowing that He has already thought about them. (Psalm 37:23)

Carefully
Paul wrote in Eph 5:15 (NKJV) ‘See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise’

We want God to use us in the future – thenwe need to watch how we walk, to have a walk worthy of the calling to which we are called. The calling is to that of being a Christian and the opportunities that living out that calling may unfold.

Look at Noah – the Bible says there was something ‘different’ about him. He was a man right with God, careful to keep that relationship right, to always do what God asked him to, to keep his integrity. Maybe that is why God could open up what can only be described as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity.

To walk ‘circumspectly’ literally means to walk accurately, in the right way, frequently consulting our rule – so that we don’t act as fools but rather as people who are wise. Too many give no thought about how things look, about protecting their integrity, to think about how their actions represent God.

Instead of getting frustrated with God and wondering why He hasn’t noticed us yet, perhaps we should take more care how we walk, what we fill our time with and give ourselves greater possibility of ending up where God needs us to end up.

So where do we need to take care? How can we improve your walk?
What are we going to do this year to help us walk more carefully?

Don’t Opt Out: Stayed Locked On

Your destiny is an incredible thing.

Life can throw much at us, both good and bad. Plenty of opportunity to be disappointed, frustrated, offended…to opt out. But to get locked on to your destiny and to stay there you must make the choice to not opt out. Stay in the game.

Galatians 6:9
‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’

Here was my thought:
what would it take for you to give up on God?
would it be easy for you to opt out?
do you have enough to your relationship with God to keep you locked on?

Your destiny may take 20 years to take shape. Are you committed to keeping on the journey and let God shape you into the person he needs you to become?

[What do you think?]

Be Reconciled

Cannot escape this thought I had whilst preparing for my message tomorrow…

To remain unreconciled with another is a major obstacle to you getting locked on to your destiny.

The Apostle Paul said that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.

We must therefore be models of reconciliation.
We must be the people who reestablish relationships that are broken.
We must be the people who settle or resolve issues & differences.

Does not acting in this manner effect our ability to lock on to our destiny?

Just looking for some thoughts from any Pastors…

Help Keep the Momentum

As Pastor of Xcel Darlington last Sunday was a good Sunday. We saw 90 people in attendance. Not a huge amount of people, not even the most we have ever seen but I sensed a difference. Momentum.

If you are part of Xcel Darlington think about Sunday before Sunday and what you can do to help keep the momentum.

Here’s what I saw…
…expectancy. People getting to Church earlier, if only by a couple of minutes. It makes a difference in setting the tone of the meeting. Help keep the momentum by coming early, ready to worship and give God your best.

…people bringing people. You want to help keep momentum. Bring someone. Connect with people outside of a Sunday. Keep inviting, even when they say no. One day they might say yes. Xcel Darlington is a great example of what Church can be like and change a person’s perspective.

…the preaching series. Not to blow my own trumpet by I think this has helped to create momentum. People have plugged into the series and kept coming back for next instalment. Help keep the momentum by committing to be there for the next one and think about who it might help and bring them along.

…great teams. People loving people. Great people, serving, doing whatever it takes to make the Church experience the best it can be. Our worship team, our venue team – thank you for playing your part.

…you. Help keep the momentum by coming to Xcel Darlington as often as you can. I know from my own experiences that it’s not always easy but I believe God will honour you for it.

What will you do to help keep the momentum? Plus…don’t forget this Sunday is the last part of the ‘Destiny: Get Locked On’ series. 11am. Dolphin Centre, Darlington.