Build Church: Together as Family

To talk about family can be dangerous. This is mine, with our parents. You may have a great family experience, others less so. Yet when God looks at His Church, He is building a family by using the family to build. People who didn’t necessarily choose to be together but through a love for Jesus have been brought together, to build something which would honour our heavenly Father.

The challenge is being willing to let go of what may be good, for the better God has laid up for us. Something I have talked about before with the idea of unlearning.

Family time is good and important. Having fun together, enjoying each others company, making memories and developing a family environment of care and safety are essential parts of building a great family.

Don’t let the pursuit of your family time, which is good, cause you to neglect or get in the way of family time with God’s family.

We have definitely reaped from all the benefits and rewards which are within this family. We would not have succeeded in seeing our girls grow into who they are without the help of God’s family. Extra parents, uncles & aunts, grandparents, people who prayed for us, encouraged us, supported us. In doing so they unknowingly helped us to flourish and brought out the best in us. Credit where credit is due, without this family, our family would not be who and where it is today.

The power of God’s family should never underestimated. When we develop a stronger sense of togetherness we create an environment where God’s power can reside.

In Nehemiah we see how the people demonstrated a certain set of family values which when pooled together brought about a great accomplishment. The wall was rebuilt, but in reality much more than that happened.

They demonstrated togetherness in what may be considered very simple ways but which proved to be very powerful ways. In having a mind to work, a willingness to pray to their God, to set a watch over the land day and night, to be positioned as families as need required, to fight for one another, to see the job completed, to labour until it was done and in trusting in the leader too. [Nehemiah 4].

This attitude towards building is a great picture for how we should build today. We are not building a wall, we are being used by God to build His church, to make His name known across our communities.

God is building a home. He’s using us all – irrespective of how we got here – in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day – a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home [Ephesian 2:19b-22 The Message]

When we build together everything gets set in its proper place. What they built for Nehemiah was more than a wall, they built something which would facilitate all that they needed to prosper and flourish as individuals, as families, as a community, and as a city on a hill.

The gates were placed, doors hung, each contributing to the well-being and growth of each person, each family, the wider community and creating the framework by which God would move. The same is true for us today. As we build together, everything in its proper place, we create an environment where God can move, can command His blessing and then we will see change, in ourselves, in our families, in the community and in His church. [Nehemiah 3]

Salvation. Evangelism. Rejection of Old Ways. Fruitfulness (prosperity). Freedom from Rubbish of life. Healing. Refreshing. Power and ability to fight for God. The Coming of the Lord. Judgement.

Who doesn’t want to see these in their own lives and in our nation? Then we must be ready to display the same family values those who built the wall displayed. To take our responsibility for this generation. To build together. To do the work. Whatever it takes. To pray together. To watch out together for each other. To position ourselves in the family. To stand. To fight for one another not with one another. To see the job completed. Not just for ourselves but for the generations who will follow.

Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful: wise counsel clear understanding simple trust healing the sick miraculous acts proclamation distinguishing between spirits tongues interpretation of tongues. All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when. You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts – limbs, organs, cells – but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain – his Spirit – where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves – labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free – are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive. I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. [1 Corinthians 12:7-14 The Message]

Can we do this then. Or is it just a vain imagination. Are we so set in our ways we cannot unlearn our view of family?  Let us trust that as we build His family and His home, He loves us more than we love our own families and will not see us short-changed or to miss out on the full life which He promised is ours, in Christ Jesus.

 

 

 

Build Church: Conference Weekend

Here goes Conference weekend and I am expectant for great things. Worship. Word. Gods presence. Change. Transformation. Challenge and encouragement. 

The next 3 days will be a full 3 days but a great 3 days. 

Everything is set up with the intention of growing bigger people as we sit under an open heaven, the presence of God and some great teaching too. My faith will built up.

All of these help build church.

Don’t get me wrong, we should guard against becoming some kind of Conference junkie, chasing the presence of God in the hope for yet another word. 

However, coming under the mix of all I mentioned above can make a massive difference in how we approach our Christian life. Maybe just giving it a fresh sense of purpose and spark some God-given energy in us to be out about reaching people.

So as we get ready to launch, I have decided to be ready to learn,  I have prayed too, opening my heart to receive, waiting on God for Him to do what only He can do.

How about you. Why do you love a good Conference?

[I will post notes from the sessions as we go through the day. Follow on social media too #IConf17 #Influence17]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Week: Thursday

Being away from home can mess with the normal routine, so it was good to wake up in my own bed, spend some time praying and reading at the start of the day. 

Back in the office and getting to work. Thursday was a mixed day but mostly preparation…for Sunday, for the future, for Kerina’s birthday. 

Sunday is coming. I’m looking forward to being in Darlington, preaching a message for our new series ‘Love Ran Red’. I’m meditating on two questions ~ what happened when love ran red at the cross?’

The cross is where our humanity and God’s divinity intersect. Nothing else on the planet can satisfy us in any way like the event of Jesus Christ on the cross. 

The second question is more simple ~ what should we do in response?

As for the future, plenty to think about after our couple of days away. Now to do the work. Website. Leadership. Systems. Bangalore. Prayer. Growth. Finance. 

As for Kerina’s birthday ~ it’s a surprise. She doesn’t like them so always good for winding her up. 

Add to this some extra pick ups and drop offs for my girls and a visit to the hospital, it has been a full day. 

This has been my day. Doing my best to play my part in building the local church. What’s your day been like?

Helping my Family to Flourish

Here’s another focus for 2016 which might seem a little twee but it’s one of the most important things in my life.

I love God with all my heart. He is definitely first in my life. My family is a close second.

My desire is to see them flourish and I take my responsibility as their parent in helping them to flourish very seriously. Actually, it’s the responsibility of helping them to be in the right place to help them to flourish that I take seriously. The right environment, surrounded by the right people is important and doesn’t normally happen by default but through deliberate action on both ours and their part.

Things I won’t do…

  1. Tell them what to be. Which doesn’t mean I won’t have an opinion, especially if I feel they are undervaluing their potential.
  2. Make them do what needs to be done to be what they want to be. I’m a great believer that you get what you deserve. I’m not going to stand over the shoulders to make them.
  3. Give up on them. Whatever, wherever, they are always my girls and they need to know they count on their dad.
  4. Not say NO to them. If I don’t believe it is the best for them I will tell them. They need to know that dad has their best in mind.
  5. Hold a grudge against them.

Things I will do…

  1. Pray for them every day that they stay strong for God and learn to stand in faith, no matter what happens.
  2. Tell them about our journey and how staying in the House of God has caused us to flourish.
  3. Encourage them to go for it. To not allow the past ever stop them from going for their dreams.
  4. Remind them that most dreams only happen over time and with lots of hard work.
  5. Keep the conversation going. That they know we are always willing to talk and available for them, whatever is going on in their lives. This includes asking awkward questions too.
  6. Try and stay calm. I know I am not the best at this all the time. I still get cross. I still raise my voice.
  7. Tell them I love them and get a hug. [They are getting older now so that’s not cool].

There’s so much more but this is my focus ~ helping my girls succeed in all areas of life and to flourish in their relationship with God.

Would you add anything?

 

Being a Christian Husband

As part of our current series at Xcel Church we talked about what every man should be willing to do. In light of that, here are 5 things that are important to me as a Christian husband that I thought I would share with you…

Love God wholeheartedly. Wherever the rest of the family is with God, it’s often a reflection of where the man is. If you say you love God, then love God. Identify with Jesus and don’t be ashamed or embarrassed by that. Have a willingness to talk about Jesus and your love for Him. Then, let your decisions be a reflection of this. Be in church. Serve. Do something.

Be a spiritual leader. This is not about being in full time ministry. Plain and simply, this is about men being the spiritual leader they were created to be. Yes, marriage is a partnership. I am not talking about bossing others around or being manipulative. Just that as a man, take responsibility for the spiritual welfare of your home. If you are not happy with the atmosphere of your home, your marriage, your family then take an honest look at yourself, get with God and let the Holy Spirit change you. Heard it said once that to change the marriage, you change the man. Come on men, let’s be willing to change if needed.

Pray for your wife and your kids. Honesty time ~ do you actually pray for your wife (or the wife you haven’t met yet if you are single)? Do you pray for anything? Top of my list, every day, I pray for my wife & my 3 daughters. You cannot change your spouse or your kids. Stop looking for the opt out. Instead, pray. Intercede for them and let God be about the changing.

Love your wife like Christ loves the Church. This always scared me. Jesus died for His bride. He sacrificed and gave himself for the church. He never gives up on the Church. Now, He is praying for us. That’s some powerful display of love right there. I need to up my game so that my wife knows that she is the apple of my eye and that I am here to serve her as a man of God in her world.

Work hard. Whether you are employed or not, be someone who has a good work ethic. Laziness is not attractive. It’s not a sexist thing to say but some blokes need to ‘man up’ and start providing for the family. I know we can’t all work but if you can then I think you should. Do something. Work makes you feel valued, even when it’s unpaid. When you feel valued, you carry yourself differently. When you carry yourself differently it influences those closest to you.

What do you think?

Be the man. Be the leader God needs you to be. Whether married, want to be married or happy being single, being a man that God can use is the same. Don’t spend too much of life messing about and therefore missing out on living the adventure God gives to those who willingly step up and let Him know they are willing to ‘be the man’.

Focus & Energy

What has your focus at the moment?

We have been spending some time recently looking at what should have our focus at Xcel Church as we move towards the Xcel 2020 vision. Quickly before people starting commenting – loving God and loving people are central to what we do, always.

As a leadership team, praying and thinking strategically about what gets our focus is important. It’s what leaders do. I have asked this question of some leaders recently too. What do you want your ministry to focus on for the next 12 months? What we choose to focus on will determine what gets our energy. We will unpack this more as we head towards vision month.

Here’s the thought – as important as it is to know what the focus should be for Xcel Church, I need to know what the focus should be more my own life, my family, my home.

We can give time and attention to many things but are they those which we would like to be defined by, the kind that are building a legacy for future generations. Whether you are a Christian or not, this question is an important one.

If we don’t focus on the right things then the energy we expend is wasted.

What has your focus at the moment? Give your energy to those things. They don’t have to be overtly ‘spiritual’ but are worked from the knowledge of who you are in Christ Jesus and His power at work, in us and through us.

These are what will have my focus and my energy on a personal level….

The health and well-being of my family: a strong and intimate marriage, seeing my daughters flourish

Building the kingdom of God: serving in God’s House, using & developing my gifts & talents properly, reaching people for Jesus

Seek after God: in all areas of my life, spending time with Him, reading His word, in prayer and doing my utmost to have a walk worthy of all God has done for me

The removal of personal debt: increasing our ability to live generously

How about you? Where is your focus and your energy going?

 

 

And Relax

Margin. Down time. Relaxation. Time to refresh. Me time. Whatever it’s called we need it. 

Saturday for me is usually that day. Time with the family. Get some of those household jobs done, bit of reading, watch the rugby. I might even get the grass cut if the sun keeps shining (maybe not). 

Resting and refreshing our soul is vital. In resting we are rejuvenated. In stepping back for a moment we can get realigned for stepping back in. 

So slow down. Make some space. And relax. If we ignore it we risk burnout and exhaustion. 

The bonus for me is that it prepares me for a Sunday. I enter His courts ready to praise. I enter His courts fully rested, a good nights sleep and the better for it. I enter His courts in the right frame of mind to give God my full attention. I enter His courts ready and prepared to worship and to bring the right message (if I’m preaching). 

Saturday = Lazy Day

We are no different to your family. We have had a busy week, kids included, so Saturday’s are a great opportunity to pause. Today we had nothing planned and we kept to that plan.

Rest is important. It’s an opportunity to catch up on all the normal household stuff. To hang out as family. To have a laugh together. To support one another as we get on with our work. To chill.

We do try hard to not overdo it on a Saturday so we are ready for Sunday. I always look forward to Church with a sense of expectancy. My prayer is to see lives changed, to see salvations, to see new people in our services. I am expectant for us coming together as church and lifting up the name of Jesus.

This Jesus Lifestyle preaching series is pretty hard hitting and this week is no less strong. How to handle people is a life skill and Jesus spoke very clearly about it. Personally, I like these kind of topics. Don’t get cross with those who are preaching, we are just pointing out how we are supposed to be living according to the words of Jesus.

Thank God for the Holy Spirit to help us to live it.