Christmas is Family

Christmas is Family.

It’s about time spent with your own family.

It’s about remembering family who cannot be with us or who no longer are.

It’s about creating a sense of family by making the effort to include those who otherwise would be on their own.

It’s about God intervening and working on the solution in such an unexpected way so we could be included in His family.

It’s Father God and His Son Jesus making their home with us, choosing to deal with the divide between us and inviting us to join with them.

Whatever your own family circumstances this ultimate ‘family’ invitation still remains open. Why not step in this Christmas and become a part of the greatest family, God’s.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” [‭‭John‬ ‭1:12‬ ‭NIV]

Jesus Was the Bigger Person

grow-bigger-001-001To be salt and light is to be like Jesus. Look at his dealings with people and you will see what I mean. Jesus was always the bigger person.

In Luke 19 Jesus is passing through Jericho. Crowds come to see him. So much so that every vantage point needed to be taken. For a small guy like Zacchaeus this meant to catch a glimpse of this great teacher, climbing a tree would be the order of the day. Now climbing a tree can be a tough enough job at the best of times but wearing a tunic, surely this just complicates things.

In position and watching Jesus interact with the crowd, the last thing Zacchaeus expects is for Jesus to notice him, speak to him and most definitely not to invite himself round to his house.

Zacchaeus was a tax collector, the despised and rejected of the day. He would be known for taking what was due for the Romans and always a portion for himself. He lived well, but probably had few or no friends.

What a day then when the Rabbi invites himself to visit. Most people wouldn’t have even given him the time of day. Some would just want to punch or spit on him. But not Jesus.

Imagine the situation in John 8 when a woman is thrown in front of Jesus having been caught in the act of adultery. ‘She is guilty’ is the cry from her accusers. Watch Jesus. He is slow to comment, maybe collecting his thoughts before he speaks. He doesn’t condemn, he doesn’t judge, instead he his compassionate, insightful, full of grace and truth.

Being salt and light offered both recipients turn-around moments. Sin is acknowledged and then covered with grace. A new life opportunity with one instruction encouraging them to ‘make things right’ and ‘sin no more’. Salt & light.

To forgive when others would condemn takes a bigger person.

To include when others would exclude takes a bigger person.

To notice when others don’t takes a bigger person.

To be inconvenienced when others prefer ease and comfort, takes a bigger person.

This is a challenge. In a world where we are taught to be concerned about ourselves, to look out for ‘number one’ anything like these things mentioned above can only come from being the bigger person. And a lot of that bigness can only truly come when we invite Jesus in, to make our lives bigger and big enough to act in such a different way.

Let’s take time this Christmas and be ready and willing to grow and become the bigger person Jesus needs us to be.

For an Undetermined Time

This sentence above is what stops me from really changing the world, from changing my world. 

I can do some great stuff for a day or for an event but too often the monotony of helping and loving others can, eventually, become too much. When the shine wears off or the excitement of the adventure passes, I stop. 

Instead I am reminded that whatever I am doing to love others I must not do out of duty but rather from a place of devotion. I haven’t signed up for a day or two, or even for a few weeks instead I have to be in for what can only be described as an ‘undetermined time’. 

After all, who says when enough is enough. I may declare ‘been there, done that, got the t-shirt’ but if the t-shirt still needs wearing perhaps I should just put it back on. 

A different way to look is to see the opportunity, to go with it, have a change of answer, don’t see the inconvenience for myself, instead be the person who says ‘If I can, then I will. Why not?’

Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act [Proverbs 3:27]

Just a thought – what do you think?

A One Question Survey

This question comes from a desire to help build the right kind of church. To present the Gospel and the good news of Jesus to as many as possible but to do so relevantly and appropriately to those within the local community.

It also comes from a desire to engage everyone in the process of identifying and spotting cultural trends and needs. We all have a better understanding of what is actually happening in our own lives and in the lives of those closest to us.

When we recognise them together, we are more likely to act on them together. To become better at not just pointing the finger at what isn’t right, but to actively serve as part of the solution. We might know that Jesus is the answer but how do we bring that answer to the right people, at the right time, in the right way.

To best meet needs we need to know the needs. We cannot seek God for answers if we don’t see the problems. I realise some are obvious but I think that’s why I am asking a question that requires a more thought out response…

Question: What are the basic needs of the community and those within it, that will drive us to serve in new, innovative, creative and God-given ways?

Or put more simply: what do you think are the basic needs of people of the local community, or the region maybe, that the local church should be addressing?

I hope you will not just read this but leave a comment with some thoughts too. Thanks

Just One

This is not a new thought, but I have been reminded recently about the power of the one.

Who is the one person that you can encourage today?

Instead of waiting for someone to encourage you, be the one who brings encouragement to another

Who is the one person you can pray for today?

Instead of waiting for someone to pray for you, be the one who prays for another.

Who is the one person you can invest in today?

Instead of waiting for someone to invest in you, be the one who passes on some wisdom, an insight, some learning, something that you know to another.

Who is the person you can…come alongside, help out, support, give to, learn from, include, forgive, give a smile to, comfort, listen to, do something for, love?

Instead of waiting, often impatiently for others to be all of these to you, lets be the ones who decide that regardless of everything else, we are going to be the ones that make a difference.

I Can Make a Difference

Following yesterday’s post I’ve been reflecting on my own ability to make a difference. Can I really make a difference in other people’s lives?

The answer of course is yes. The question I then ask myself is ‘why do I want to?’ The selfish answer is because I want people to think well of me. The better answer is because my heart for God compels me too and I should live life like that.

I need to be a better encourager. To be someone who looks for the best in people.

To always be about serving others. Seeing the opportunities to help those around me without any motive other than I can.

Be someone who genuinely cares for people. The adage ‘people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’ is true. You can’t fake genuine care. As a Pastor and leader I can’t just be ‘do as I say’, I have to love the people God has placed in our care.

Stop avoiding ‘some’ people or ‘those’ people. Everyone belongs to God, whether they know that yet or not, so I have grace that extends towards everyone.

Open up my life and go with it. Not the best at this. After a long day it’s easier to just pull up the drawbridge and close myself off. That won’t help my desire to help others.

Just embrace the inconvenience of it all. Great difference makers get on the journey and just enjoy the adventure of it all. If I can’t be inconvenienced then I’m not really going to make much of a difference.

Stop waiting for that ‘God said’ moment. I’m going to say it but the God card gets waved about far too easily as a reason for doing something and as a reason against doing something. God has already spoken, maybe I should concentrate my efforts on those words instead of needing some kind of dream, revelation or angelic visitation.

Hope that’s not too honest. I wonder what gets in the way of you making a difference? As for me, I’m not there yet. My difference making ability is always in need of improvement and thankfully, with the Holy Spirit and a willingness to be transformed, I can. So, here’s to making a difference and leaving the right kind of legacy.

Act Loving First

It is easier to act our way into feelings than feel our way into actions.

Over these next few days as we remember the ultimate action of love demonstrated by Jesus towards us let’s reflect this in our interactions towards others.

We won’t always ‘feel’ like loving others. Even Jesus asked for what was about to come his way to be taken from him. Yet he ‘chose’ to love us. We won’t feel our way into loving others. Instead we have to act our way into loving others by doing something that demonstrates a love for them.

We need to learn to communicate well, giving words of encouragement and affirmation. Choose to appreciate rather than criticise.

We need to learn to empathise with others and see things through their eyes. Don’t judge another persons way of handling something just because you would deal with it differently.

We need to look for opportunities to meet a need. We can’t wait for them to fall from the sky, go find them. Everybody has needs.

We need to be willing to share ourselves and make more connections. This is when love actions just become a way of life. This is about loving others beyond convenience or no cost involved.

Act first. Act loving towards others first. Who knows what might happen.

 

Thoughts From Today: Ready to Resource

Encouraged from today and the response to the messages spoken around the thoughts of us being a resource centre.

As the people of God, we should be the ones who those we work with are coming to for an answer. Why? We have access to a resource they do not.

As the people God, we may be comfortable in being a resource in one area but what about all the other gems we are keeping safely to one side, unwilling to share. Every part of who we are is worth something and is an available resource for God.

As the people of God we are part of His church, the hope of the world. We are privileged to play our part by bringing our resource in and allowing it to be put to use.

How can we be a better resource this week?