I Don’t Want To Do This!

Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
[Matthew 5:16]
I am going to be very honest here, it’s the only way to be sometimes. This stuff is a challenge to me. I struggle with this. I’m not very good at it. I don’t think I’m alone either. Go on, be honest, we don’t mind hanging out with others but we do love our ‘me’ time as well.
Yet, it cannot stay as an excuse. I have chosen to make an effort. To be open. To be generous. To notice others and engage in conversations. In writing, it all sounds a little cold and forced but it’s not.
As I walk with God somethings just become obvious. People are important to God, therefore people are important to me. To behave otherwise is to behave selfishly. I wasn’t saved to live a life like that. Go into the world. Make disciples. Love others. These are the words of Jesus and He is not a nobody to me, He is somebody to me, my Saviour, my Lord and I live to serve Him.
So this is my determination in 2015. Not a promise because I am bound to not get it right all the time. It’s just a new setting for my heart.
Open. Hospitable. Generous. To be obedient to the Word and most importantly, show off my open, hospitable and generous God to the very best of my abilities.
How about you?

The Best You Can Give

Heard someone say on Sunday that the most valuable gift you can give someone this Christmas and any other time for that matter – is YOU! I agree, but I’ll be honest and admit that I am not very good at it.

We hold back though because we don’t have a true understanding of our value. We have been bought for a great price, we have been made clean, all those tarnishes that could have caused a devaluation have been dealt with. We have been completely restored.

The challenge is live the life that matches that truth. Maybe we sometime refuse to believe it, almost causing some cracks ourselves, just to keep us grounded. It doesn’t feel right to not have any hurt, yet that is the life that Jesus came to give us.

He took on all our impurities and in doing so made us pure.

He took on our all constraints and in doing so set us free.

He laid aside His life so that we could have life and life in all it’s fullness.

This Christmas lets choose to remind ourselves of 2 incredible things…

The greatest gift you can give to someone is YOU. And the reason you can do that is because the greatest gift of salvation, new life and freedom in Christ was given to you. Jesus gave his life so that we can give ours. At Christmas time lets make the effort to do this as often as we can.

Enthusiasm v Excuses

Maybe it’s just me but you know what it can be like. That first rush of blood after you have heard about something, that immediate reaction that tells you that something must be done.

Enthusiasm burst forth. I’m gonna change the world.
Problem is I don’t know how to change the world. Challenge is to find the person who will lead the way. I would gladly follow someone else who knows what they are doing or can make things happen. Tell me what to do and I will do it. Unfortunately such a person doesn’t always exist so the enthusiasm swiftly dissipates and I revert to type, blend into the crowd. (Maybe they don’t exist because I am supposed to be that person but don’t want to admit it).

Excuses kick in. Too much, too far, too hard, too much time, too expensive, too dangerous, too hopeless, too weak, not from the right place. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Don’t allow your enthusiasm for what you believe God would have you to do be overwhelmed by excuses. Don’t allow the difficulty of doing something dampen your enthusiasm for it.

Be like the Apostle Paul who was seemingly invigorated by the obstacles (2 Corinthians 11:23-28)

I have worked much harder.
Been in prison more often.
Flogged more severely.
Exposed to death again & again.
Five times received forty lashes minus one.
Three times beaten with rods.
Stoned.
Shipwrecked.
Night & day in the open sea.
Constantly on the move.
Danger from rivers, bandits, fellow countrymen
Danger in the city, the country, at sea, liars
Laboured without sleep.
Have know hunger, thirst, gone without food, been cold & naked.
Pressures from church concerns.

Now that’s some excuses to kill off any enthusiasm. Makes my poor excuses look incredibly weak in comparison.
Perhaps I could change the world. I’ll do it by starting to change my world, reaching out to those closest to me who are in need and seeing where God might take me as I am willing to be used.

No grand gestures.
No excuses.
Just one person becoming available.
Simple, small acts of kindness, whenever I can.

My prayer…
Lord, help me get over myself and use me. Help me to help others. To be an encourager, a listener, someone who brings hope, who has faith to believe YOU for some stuff. I don’t know where you might take me but I pray that you help me to be ready. Please don’t allow my excuses stop you from using me. Amen

Why We Don’t Pick Up The Towel

Following on from the previous post about Servolution here’s some thoughts about why we don’t get involved. Jesus gave us a great example in John 13 when he washed the disciples feet, he demonstrated what it meant to love, be devoted and serve those around him.

I had two thoughts when I read this…

Every room has a towel

Pick It UP!!

Every room – every area of our life, our workplace, our home, our college, our street, our community, our church, our friends, our neighbours, every time we go somewhere there is opportunity to serve. An opportunity to pick up a towel.

The question is then – WHY DO WE JUST WALK PAST IT?

1. I’ve done my bit
Do you know what back in the day – I was it! Maybe as I approach my 40th birthday it’s time to reflect, to look at everything I’ve done and then step aside for the young people coming through. To be honest I’ve done just about everything in church life – kids church, drop in coffee bar, youth, street evangelism, been in the choir, worship, driven the bus, car park, put more chairs out that some of you have had hot dinners, christmas meals, cleared gardens, etc etc – many of us could say the same thing. So maybe I’ve earned the right to say ‘I’ve done my bit’.

That makes me ARROGANT. There is always something that I can do…

Paul wrote ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in a such a way as to get the prize’. It’s not just about taking part. It’s not about saying that I ran the race before. We have to keep on running the race and running to WIN. We must notdisqualify ourselves because of the past things we have done.

2. Don’t Need the Hassle
Serving is inconvenient. It will cost us more than money. It will involve energy, stuff, time, no wonder its sometimes easier to just not get involved.

The story of the Good Samaritan is an illustration of people not wanting to get involved. What were they doing? They were thinking of themselves, maybe acting a little bit selfishly. When we think only of ourself we start to opt out, look for excuses, we become lazy, we allow our circumstances to become the biggest thing in our world and forget that its not about us but about other people.

‘I can’t be bothered’
‘I have a lot going on in my own life at the moment’
‘Work is really busy – when I get in its family time thats most important’
‘I’ve got things to do, places to go’

These are not wrong – I know life can be difficult and you must keep the balance right BUT sometimes the best solution for your circumstances is a servolution.

Paul wrote in Galatians ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up’. It seems that helping others will do us good too.

3. I don’t do that
Ever looked at the list of opportunities and excused yourself because you don’t do kids, you don’t do singing, you don’t do early mornings, you don’t do physical work. I know I have. Next time we have a thought that something isn’t being done, maybe that’s a towel opportunity, our frustrations could be our chance to pick up a towel.

Jesus didn’t ask us to follow him if it ‘fits’ with our likes & dislikes, he just asks us to follow him, to lay down our life to gain it, to give up some stuff, to take up our cross everyday. We need to pick up the towel, when we enter a room, someones world then pick up that towel…why?

Because of what it represents…
…people who have needs
…opportunities for God to move
…living out the right kind of Christian walk (giving up your life)
…glorifying God
…lining yourself up to receive a harvest
…because we should

Don’t walk past the towel….pick it up.
It may not seem as significant to us as having the right title BUT to the person we are serving it could be the most significant thing we ever do.

Let’s make this a great time of Servolution.

What Makes A Great Servolution?

The story of the four men lowering the paralyzed man down in front of Jesus is a fantastic illustration of what makes a great servolution. Four men, see a need in someone elses world and do all that they can to help. No strings attached. No benefit for themselves, instead all the benefits were for the person being helped.

When it comes to fulfilling a great servolution…

THINK IT THROUGH
In simple terms – have a look around, see things that need doing, think about what you can do. They did this and then performed a deliberate & intentional act of kindness.

PUSH THROUGH
Ideas without action never achieve anything. Being creative with what you could do is great fun but without pushing yourself to do something you won’t make a difference.

These four men had to push themselves. Taking the idea of helping him and making it a reality – getting a bed, knowing where to go, carrying him a distance – not easy, not comfortable, they would have had lots of opportunity to feel like they wouldn’t get there, that what they were doing wouldn’t make a difference.

FOLLOW THROUGH
When they got to the house they could not get in. Maybe they thought of going back home but they were determined to see it through. They climbed the stairs, cleared the roof tiles, and did all they could to get that man in front of Jesus.

Here’s the thing with a servolution:
Don’t start something that you are not willing to see through.
When they had done ALL that they could do, Jesus could do ALL that He could do.
Jesus saw THEIR faith & did something for the man they had helped. A servolution lines people up for an encounter with God.

So, what are you going to do?

Check Out the Xcel Servolution

Xcel Church have partnered with Servolution. This is our opportunity to see complete and radical change in a person’s life through simple but deliberate acts of kindness.

If you are part of Xcel Church then get involved. Let us know what you are up to, post some pics, share your ideas and be a part of what promises to be an incredible journey. We are over at An Xcel Servolution

Take the Plunge – Rescue Someone

Been thinking on interesting topics over the last couple of weeks. The whole INTERFERENCE thought and reasons why people drift away from God is niggling away at me all the time.

Sunday was a good day at Xcel in lots of ways – worship, word, atmosphere, connecting.
Sunday was disappointing in other ways – no one gave their life to Jesus, in fact I’m not sure how many new faces there were across the venues.

Challenged the Xcel Darlington crew the other week to never assume. Just because people are not at church, don’t assume that everything is okay. Maybe they are not there because of some INTERFERENCE in their world. Not just holidays. Or work.

Bring someone back to Church! There’s a challenge. But then again is it really? With the whole online social networking, emailing and texting – communicating with people in a very convenient, non-pressure way has never been easier. I’ve been messaging like crazy and it’s been great to open up some dialogue and discover what’s going on in people’s worlds. even better to see some of those people back in Church on Sunday!!

People who are drowning don’t need pleasant words from the person on dry land. They don’t need to be told how they should have read the signs, not gone in the deep water…what they want is to be rescued. Some people in our worlds are just the same and the problem with many Christians is that they are full of well-meaning words, good at the opinions but not so willing to jump in and rescue the person.

God is definitely nudging me to take the plunge and get rescuing. It might be messy but I know God will help.

Who is not in Church who used to be in Church?
Why not make contact and find out how they are and if there is anything you could do for them?

A Matthew 10 Lifestyle

Are we over-complicating things in the Church?
Are we too focused on the right growth strategy, connecting people and organising stuff that we miss out on the simplicity of a Christ-led life?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for strategy and thinking. I love all that stuff. I am much more a long term person who likes to know where we are heading and how we can best get there. But Matthew 10 has got me thinking…

1. It doesn’t matter who you are. Jesus picked a motley crew of likely lads, gave them simple instructions and told them to basically just get on with it. No Pentecost yet. No out pouring of the Holy Spirit. No tongues of fire. Just a very simple thing – you’ve been with me a while so go…

– preach a simple message – the kingdom of heaven is near
– heal the sick
– raise the dead
– cleanse those who need to be
– drive out demons

Trying to remember the last time I did any of these!!

2. The focus was simple. Freely you have received so freely give. You don’t need any bells & whistles to reach out to people. If they receive you then stay, keep going. If they don’t, then move on. The worse that anyone can say is no. Nothing to be embarrassed about.

3. Expect the unexpected. Be on your guard. Be ready for anything but don’t worry about it either. If it’s happening because you are making a stand for Jesus’ sake then the words you need to speak will be given to you. In fact, people coming against you should almost be expected – just don’t allow yourself to not stand but give in to it.

4. Acknowledgement goes along way. Whoever acknowledges Jesus before men will be acknowledged before his Father in heaven. Whoever doesn’t acknowledge Jesus before others will not be acknowledged before his Father. A willingness to lose your own life for the sake of the Cause is a challenge worthy of acceptance.

5. Help someone. Just a small help can make a BIG difference. A cup of cold water may not seem like much to you but to the person who you give it may seem like the world.

Is this too simplistic? Is just knowing Jesus enough?
Love people.
Stand for Jesus.
Be ready for anything.
Trust God.

Maybe….
Lay down your life.

What do you think?