Build Church: Know Your Comfort Zone

Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace [Matthew 28:29 Message]

There’s a lot of talk about getting out of your comfort zone and I get that. We fill our days with so much stuff which in reality is of no eternal purpose, both individually in our Christian life and corporately as the body of Christ. We are very comfortable in our faith.

A better focus might be to know our comfort zone. To learn the unforced rhythms of grace Jesus wants to walk and work with us in. To find our best fit. To discover our unique calling and to then ride this wave with all of our effort and determination.

Anyone who know me well enough should know that after Jesus, other than my family, there are two main things which have my heart – raising the next generation of leaders and building local church. I am on the journey of discovery still, even after so many years that to be fruitful for God in both of these will no doubt involve the following…

To get into my zone I first have to get out of my comfort.

I have to give the Holy Spirit permission to convict me to move me.

Once I am in the zone, only I am the one responsible for putting the right kind of effort in to it.

To bear the best kind of fruit, the God-given destiny kind of fruit, my life has to be about more than just the fruit of my own labours.

I am not there yet. Let’s be honest, there have been good days and not so good days. I have frustrations. Yet the only person getting in the way of me building anything of eternal significance with my life is me. So best get over myself, repent, remind myself that my preferences are for laying down and just get on doing what it is I feel God is asking me to do.

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Lead Well: 5 Ways to Best Face the Challenge of Life

My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood; let us ambush the innocent without reason; like Sheol let us swallow them alive, and whole, like those who go down to the pit; we shall find all precious goods, we shall fill our houses with plunder; throw in your lot among us; we will all have one purse”– my son, do not walk in the way with them; hold back your foot from their paths [Proverbs 1:10-15]

Life is a challenge. I would go as far to say that life is one long test. Things go well, things don’t go so well. Good days and other days.

I have made big mistakes which have had little or no impact on me, while other smaller, daft ones, have had the potential to cause major consequences. You just don’t know sometimes.

The challenge then becomes about protect yourself. To protect your future. To protect the God-given future. It doesn’t mean doing nothing and taking no risks. Verses like these in Proverbs have helped me to create some non-negotiables for how I travel, make decisions and walk with God through life.

Do not consent. Stay strong. Learn to say NO. There are some things which I should just not agree to.

Be alert to ambush. Keep an eye out for what’s going on around you. Call them boundaries, guardrails, whatever. Put them in place, they will keep you from getting caught out.

Stay away from the place of danger. Don’t go to those places where temptation may be too strong. It’s too easy to justify our behaviour sometimes but ultimately it only hurts us.

The crowd is not always right. This may be the message of the world but we are not meant to just go with the way of the world. It doesn’t matter everyone else is doing it or even that society says it’s ok. Do what is right because it is the right thing to do.

Hold back when appropriate. Take a moment. Look. Really look. Fools do rush in. It can be difficult but learn to wait for Gods lead.

All with the power of the Holy Spirit helping you too. This is the adventure of leading well in life. Go for it!

Would you add anything else to the list of non-negotiables?

Special Moments

Every relationship needs special moments.

That first moment when you meet your special someone. That moment when you try and pluck up the courage to talk to her, especially awkward when there is plenty of ‘setting up’ going on by others. The exchange of numbers. The phone call to check they are alright. The next time you are together. A walk around the lake. Holding hands. Talking and talking (and I mean talking).

Special moments. Daft stuff really but when you look back you can recognise them as pivotal moments. Those times that make the journey worthwhile and that now, after nearly 21 years of marriage, bring a happy smile to my face.

The same is true for my relationship with God. From the moment of realisation that I needed to accept Him for myself and not just because my dad and mum had. Getting baptised. Being filled with the Holy Spirit. Finding myself leaning up against the church organ after coming round from having been overwhelmed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just learning to appreciate and have an awareness of God’s presence. Incredible moments when the Word of God hits you between the eyes, like they are speaking just to you.

Moments. Many moments. Special God encounter moments. You can’t necessarily build a relationship on them alone but they definitely make the journey what it is. Highlights and marker experiences along the way. Proof of someones love for me. Proof to me of God and His interest in me, plain little me.

Last Sunday was one of those moments. Unexpected in some sense. A Sunday night service hijacked by the power of God. An awareness of His presence. His peace that goes beyond all understanding. His power moving by the Holy Spirit and working in people’s lives. That never gets old.

Here’s the thing I have discovered about such moments. You have to put yourself in the place where they might happen. You have to step out and ask the girl, you have to pursue her, learn to appreciate her and understand how she ticks. There is often a little bit of inconvenience, a little bit of risk, some faith maybe.

It’s true with God too. When His people gather together as family, in His House, then anything can happen. You just have to be there to experience it though. I know that God can move in your living room but there is something powerful when Church is filled with believers. That atmosphere of faith, a determined focus on God, without distraction, time set aside to lift up His name and then allowing Him to have His way. Amazing.

I can’t make you be there, all I can do is encourage you to position yourself in the place where God encounter moments can take place. It may be difficult, inconvenient or a little bit risk but the step of faith on your part will be so worth it.

28 Days of Prayer

This month I am giving some additional focus to my prayer life. I can be easily frustrated that things are not changing the way I would like, be that in my own life or in the life of Church.

In sharing these thoughts with God the simple reply came to me, ‘Are you praying about that?’ It was as if God was saying ‘You haven’t asked me about it.’

So that’s what I am going to do. I’m going to pray over my church. Join me if you want to. Here is what I will be praying for this first week…

Day 1: All our Sunday services across our locations
Day 2: The incredible Xcel staff
Day 3: Those who lead ministries
Day 4: Our Lead Pastor and family
Day 5: Those in the church family who are unwell
Day 6: Planet Youth. The leaders & team
Day 7: Those who preach the word

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭7-8‬ NKJV)

Who will join in?

3 Things That Strengthen Our Walk

“I’m baptising you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I’m a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭3‬:‭11-12‬ MSG)

When I read this a picture comes to mind demonstrating a process of events that provide us with the perfect way to walk with Jesus. We need certain things to happen otherwise we are walking in our own strength and not in the fullness of God.

We need the IGNITION that comes from knowing Jesus. Friends can help kickstart stuff, we can even have some great ideas ourselves but we need the kingdom life IGNITED within us to really make a difference.

We need the FIRE of God within us. Ignition sets the fire ablaze. The fire of the Holy Spirit changes things. The power of the  external is not as important as the power of the internal. Let’s remember that we have the same Spirit in us that raised Christ from the death.

We need all the rubbish to be BURNED up. I love that Jesus is in the clean up business. When we keep the fire of God burning, we create an envrionment where rubbish cannot accumulate. Lets give Jesus permission to clean up what needs removing from our life. Walking is easier when we don’t have as much to carry.

As we choose to continue our walk with Jesus let’s keep the fire ignited and the clean up always on the go. That way we don’t walk in our strength but by the Spirit of God instead.

How about we take a quick inventory: is the fire of God ignited in me? Are there things I need to allow Jesus to clean up?

A Holy Spirit By-Pass

My last post talked about leadership growing pains. I shared my experience and some things that can help you. I missed one vital ingredient.

When we feel that we have reached our limit or that our head keeps hitting the ceiling of our own capabilities then as a Christian leader we need to have an understanding that there is another way to breakthrough the barrier. It involves us stressing less, it involves not just endeavouring in our strength to increase our capability and our capacity.

Instead it may involve us getting out of the way.

It may involve us working like it depends on us but praying like it depends on God.

It’s not about running faster on the hamster wheel of busyness or trying to work smarter. Instead it’s about allowing the Holy Spirit to break that ceiling. It’s about allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us in to all truth. When we struggle for answers, the Holy Spirit can impart wisdom. When get stuck at a leadership roadblock, it’s the Holy Spirit that can help navigate the journey.

God can do in 5 minutes by the power of the Holy Spirit something that may just kill us off if we only try doing it for ourselves.

We must be leaders who pray, read, learn, think, question.

But…above all these, we must be leaders who ask the Holy Spirit to lead us as leaders, to impart wisdom, to help us solve those knotty problems, to break the ceiling on our leadership.

Waiting On Tables

Comparison is a dangerous thing yet if we are honest we all do it. We look at how others are doing and it can go one of a number of ways…

Why aren’t they doing more? At least I’m doing more them? Why am I doing this when I could do be doing ‘that’? I’m better than this.

In Acts 6 we see the all too familiar problem of people needed to serve and serve in what could be considered a fairly menial type task. However the qualifications for such a team were quite high.

John Maxwell says that the Apostles looked for people who were…

Known from their sphere of influence
Able to serve on a team
Trusted among the people
Full of the Holy Spirit
Competent and intelligent
Responsible

I am challenged to not look down on the role I get to play, after all Stephen was chosen and became a martyr, Philip was chosen and he was a great evangelist too. I wonder how God would pick me and that I actually measure up.

There is no limit to what we can do for God wherever we might be involved. Our responsibility is to keep being the kind of people that God is looking for, to stay willing and obedient, and enjoy the opportunity to serve that is right in front of us today.

Make Me Like This

If grace saves me then grace also equips and empowers me to live.

When I read the stories about the early church I see how the grace of God was not just a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card but the power by which they lived every day.

My prayer is that I would become more like this. Someone with a sense of readiness and willingness to become the agent of change that God wants me to be. I love their attitude of ‘whatever it takes’ but not in their own strength, all under the leading and power of the Holy Spirit.

After preaching, imprisonment, a miracle release and then being told to stop talking about Jesus, they gathered together and prayed this incredible prayer…

“…enable your servants to speak your words with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus”. After they had prayed, the pace where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. [Acts 4:29b-31]

How about we have the same attitude and determination?