One Way to Step Into Your Calling

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Too often we make life about ourselves. How can I make MY year the best year for ME?

If you’ve read any of my posts then you’ll notice I am an advocate for goal setting, having a plan, aiming for something.

But more than these, I am a greater advocate for the presence of God, getting Gods view and lead on life’s big decisions. A good, strong walk with God can help us overcome more obstacles than the best laid plans.

How we approach the days ahead is more than snap decisions or how detailed the plan may be. That’s why yesterday I encouraged us all to prophesy over and into the future. To speak the right things. We should add to this Gods call for us, His heart to become our heart.

I read these verses this morning and was nudged by the Holy Spirit – why not make this your 2017 focus, your calling to step in to for the next 12 months and beyond…

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour. [‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:18-19‬ ‭ESV]

Prophesy over your future. Then be about the same things Jesus was about. That can’t be wrong and we surely make a difference in the process too.

Am I BIG Enough?

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After yesterday’s post about how Jesus was always the bigger person, I end up asking myself one simple question: Am I big enough? How can I display these same qualities? Can I be a big enough person to be the ‘salt and light’ Jesus is asking me to be?

We can be bigger people because God is big enough.

God makes us bigger. Jesus coming from heaven to earth and demonstrating how to  be bigger people helps us become bigger ourselves.

God is big enough to carry our stuff [1 Peter 5:7]

God is big enough to do exceedingly & abundantly more [Ephesians 3:20-21]

God is big enough to finish what He has started [Philippians 1:6]

God is big enough to create something out of nothing [Genesis 1]

As we approach Christmas and another New Year I am choosing to not make resolutions but rather have a word for the year. The word for 2017 for me is definitely going to be BIGGER.

To become bigger so I will make a difference.

To become bigger on the inside so what’s happening on the outside will not crush me.

To become bigger by taking the limits off, to not dismiss myself or others.

To become bigger so I am not easily offended or deliberately offending others.

To become bigger so I do not miss the small by being so focused on the great.

To become bigger, not living closed in but rather in the wide-open space God has for us.

Jesus was born small (obviously) but lived bigger. At Christmas don’t just become bigger by over-indulging, let’s be determined to become bigger by knowing Jesus better, learning from Him, and growing into the people the world needs us to be, with Him at the centre of all we are doing.

Where would you need to become a bigger person in 2017?

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.

Jesus Was Full of Grace and Truth

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. [John 1:14 Message]

Jesus moved in, was one of a kind and lived a generous life. We are now called to live these out in our own lives. Yet one more thing is needed.

Jesus led with grace while never compromising the truth of Gods word. And this is not an easy way to live. In a world that can often be all grace and no truth or all truth and no grace, as Christians we need the Holy Spirit to help us navigate this well.

Jesus had grace for sinners but not for sin. He didn’t judge and condemn the woman in John 8 like everyone else was ready to do. Instead he led with grace but acknowledged the sin and need for change by encouraging to ‘go and sin no more’.

This Christmas lets be slow to judge and quick to love and have a willingness to walk alongside people as they journey through the consequences of what ever decisions they made. Always good to remember to deal with the ‘log’ in our own eye before we comment on the ‘speck’ in someone elses.

Jesus Was Generous

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The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighbourhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out [John 1:14]

Jesus moved in to the neighbourhood. He was one of a kind. Jesus came as a Messiah not in power and authority but rather in humility, to serve rather than to be served. He would lay down His life instead of elevating Himself. He would give Himself willingly for us who could give nothing in return.

This is generosity at a whole other level.

This kind of generous was an inconvenient kind of generous.

This kind of generous was an any time kind of generous.

This kind of generous covered all aspects of His life. And now as reflectors of the love and light of Jesus we are call to this kind of generous. To be people of kindness, compassion, encouragement, forgiveness. People generous with our time and our resources.

Let’s take a moment this Christmas to be generous. To be the right ‘one of a kind’. Look for an opportunities to make a difference. To notice people. To invite and include them in our worlds. After all, when we care, we are blessed. In fact, when we care when we can care, we are sowing the right kind of generous seeds that one day may well reap a harvest of care when we need to be cared for.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for [Matthew 5:7 Message]

Jesus Was One of a Kind

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We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory 

We continue in John 1:14 and see how Jesus moved in and was then described as ‘one of a kind’.

Jesus was definitely different. He was not your traditional religious figure, someone who saw themselves as above others or more important. Jesus crossed the line so many times when different opportunities faced him – he would forgive, he was moved by compassion, he would go beyond the law, he would confront, he would heal.

Jesus stood out in a good way. I wonder, do we?

Jesus stood for a cause that made a difference, not just in society but in people’s lives and for eternity. I wonder, do we?

Jesus was the ‘go to’ person if you wanted a turn around, some help, some teaching and wisdom in how to live life God’s way. I wonder, are we?

Often we stand out for all the wrong reasons, make no difference whatsoever and are definitely not the ‘go to’ person for any kind of help or wisdom.

Maybe this Christmas we should ask God to help us to stand out for Him. To be the right kind of one of a kind. To be different in the right way for Jesus (not weird) and by living for Him become the people those around us know they can come to for help, in all kinds of times.

The Kingdom View: Connection

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We have been talking about the Kingdom for a few weeks now in church. From the big foundational aspects through to how being a citizen of the Kingdom influences our every day.

In my messages I have been giving the congregation a gentle push, a call to action, to not just be ‘ready, willing and available’ but to actually DO SOMETHING. It doesn’t need to be grand, just something. And I’m not going to ask anyone to do anything that I will not get involved with or do myself.

So last night we had a quiz in one of the local Community Halls and it was great. Simple. Uncomplicated. Meeting people we didn’t know. A good laugh too. Turns our being Kingdom citizens isn’t as difficult as we make it out to be.

Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen, baking cakes, having conversations and just being normal people who happen to have Jesus in their lives.

What’s your story of connection? What shall we do next?

Upheld By Integrity

Integrity can be hard won but easily lost.

In todays throw-away culture it doesn’t seem to carry the same value as it once did. When tolerance and acceptance are the by-words, alongside anything goes, it could be argued by some that integrity is just an old-fashioned and out-dated idea and we don’t even need to try to maintain our integrity anymore.

I think we should.

I have written about integrity before. In leadership I think integrity is priceless. It sets us apart from the crowd and will protect us too. But…there is a catch…

  • Integrity takes time.
  • Integrity has a cost.
  • Integrity covers everything.
  • Integrity is a choice.
  • Integrity is a personal discipline.

I can’t make you a person of integrity, I can only sell you the benefits of no skeletons in the cupboard, no awkward conversations, no moments of indecision, no double-mindedness, no more living two different lives.

Integrity helps make sure our yes is yes and our no is a no. It creates boundary lines for our life and how we will live within them are set when we have integrity. We know who we are and other choices have to line up. It doesn’t mean we don’t care about others but it does mean sometimes what we care about has to come first.

Integrity comes from our why and it influences our what and our how. The why of my life is built on my Christian faith and the lifestyle that Jesus asks me to live out. I want my life to be whole and complete, in line with the word of God, thereby helping me maintain my integrity.

When it comes to walking with God, it holds great value too. Just check out this promise…

But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. [Psalm 41:12 ESV]

While people may shout us down, while circumstances may be against us, while trouble may hit us from different sides, it is our integrity which gets us noticed by God.

It protects us. Keeps us alive. We are blessed and sustained because of it. We are restored. Enemies will not triumph over us. This is a promise to hold on to. The next time you are tempted to neglect what you are doing and compromise your integrity, think again – with our integrity intact we are set in His presence forever. Losing that is too big a risk for me.