Who Are We Taking With Us?

The currency of heaven may be many things but in my opinion, faith and people are at the top of the list.

The Bible tells us without faith it is impossible to please God. Add to this the greatest of treasures we can store up in heaven, people, and we are on a winner. Begs the question then, as we work out our faith in Jesus, who am are taking with us?

Joshua and Caleb entered the promised land, eventually. They had to wait what may have seemed like forever, 40 years, for the moment to finally arrive. Yet they entered with the same focus and determination they had when the first opportunity had been provided them. More importantly though, they didn’t just enter for themselves, they took the next generation in with them.

These two men demonstrate 3 simple but extremely powerful qualities which in the busy way of life can so easily get lost.

TO WALK WELL WITH GOD

TO POINT PEOPLE TO JESUS

TO NEVER LOSE SIGHT OF GOD’S PROMISES

I watched an episode of Ambulance on BBC yesterday. The people being served were normal, every day people but they were broken people, some in desperate situations, others needing care, friendship, conversation, or even just someone to make them a cup of tea. Their stories were captivating and they stirred my heart.

Questions came flooding in.

Who am I taking with me?
How is my walk with God influencing the lives of those around me?
How is my people focus?
If my life is supposed to point people to Jesus, is it working?

This has to be the greatest of challenges for all Christians. We do well, we don’t do well. So maybe we need to be more vigilant. Is our belief coming through in how we live?

So here are some ‘top tips’ (for want of a better phrase) which I am committing myself to work on over the next few months and the rest of my life…

I will not let myself get bored with God.
I will work to keep my life pointed to Jesus.
I have to sharpen my people focus. To see people.
I won’t allow myself to become so easily frustrated with Gods ways.
I will always have people I want to take with me.

So who are we praying for, not preaching too? Who are we listening to, not just their voice but their heart too? Where are the opportunities to serve, not only ourselves but others too?

Maybe then, as we live out our faith in Jesus we will almost inadvertently be taking some people with us. And that will be AMAZING!!

Share your thoughts. Why do you think this is such a big challenge for us?

Build Church: The Right Framework

Systems and structures are not for everyone, they are not the work of every person or personality. Yet we all benefit from a well-built and well-maintained structure. Just take a look at yourself for starters. After all if it wasn’t there we would just be a pile of skin, muscle, sinew and veins.

A strong and healthy structure creates an environment through which God can do some pretty incredible things.

At the Conference earlier this week, we were reminded on a number of occasions how a good system can actually help reach people, raise awareness both to those far from God and those within the church. They know ‘who we are’, ‘why we do what we do’ and ‘how to communicate the good news to others’.

The framework should be worked on together where we can come to a place where are agreeable knowing that the benefits will help us to build. It won’t rule us but it will remind us. It won’t get in the way but it will keep us accountable to all God desires to do, in us and through us.

Frameworks should be for the facilitation of growth. 

Frameworks are helpful in reminding people who we are and what we are about.

Frameworks for to aid better communication, greater collaboration and increased alignment to the vision. We should become better connected as team.

Frameworks create the right kind of accountability. Are we doing what we said we do? How can we improve things by 1% to increase our effectiveness for God?

Frameworks should help in the resourcing and the equipping of those who have a mind to work and who are about the building of what needs to be built.

Frameworks do not replace the power or the presence of God.

Frameworks on their own cannot transform a persons life, rescue them or make them a new creation. Only God can do that. They can however make sure we remember ‘it’s all about Jesus’.

A good framework will help bring control to what is being built without holding people back or disempowering them. My heart is to work with others who have the same desire and help create the right frame, structure and systems within my own life, my marriage, my family, my teams and the church I am part of, to create an environment where we flourish, grow bigger and bear the right kind of fruit.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree or disagree with me?

Unlearn Church?

The recent advertising campaign by Ford challenged us to UNLEARN.

UNLEARN Postman
UNLEARN OAP
UNLEARN Pets
UNLEARN Autographs
UNLEARN Everything

Ultimately they are wanting us to think differently about cars made by Ford. To see Ford differently. The strap line they used was to ‘let go of what you know’. See the video here.

For a few weeks now I have been thinking about this UNLEARN idea from a local church perspective and genuinely want to hear your thoughts. You may or may not be part of a church, that doesn’t matter.

Let me just say, I am not looking for an opportunity to become liberal in the message – the Good News of Jesus is just that and it will not change. I am not about to make some parts easier to swallow just because they challenge us. We all know the ‘how’ part can be amended. Perhaps the UNLEARN is part of this.

Here’s how I am approaching this thought:
1. Don’t think too long about the answer – your immediate thoughts are what I want to the 3 questions below…

Q1: What would it mean to UNLEARN church?
Q2: What do we need to UNLEARN to see our churches vision happen?
Q3: What do we think people not in church need to UNLEARN about church?

2. When it comes to the answers…
Be honest. Be creative. Think outside the box. Think about others. Be encouraging and positive. Keep it simple (so I can understand it).

3. Finally – let me know if you are a church goer as this will give me some context for your answers.

Let’s start a conversation and maybe UNLEARN church, seeing it as an opportunity to ‘let go of what we know’ and to learn something new that may be of benefit for those of us already in church and possibly of even greater benefit for those who are not going to church right now.

I know some of you are going to love this opportunity and thanks for getting involved.

In Jesus Name…

Tonight we prayed again. Around 200 names to pray for. Names that people from Xcel Church wrote down recently. Family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues. People we want to see become Christians.

Tonight we prayed for them all. Believing for a harvest of souls, for salvation to come to people’s homes, for lives to be changed. Praying for those who wrote the name down to have boldness and courage in the Holy Spirit and to take the opportunity we are praying that God can engineer for you.

We pray like it depends on God. We work like it depends on us.

Really got stuck on praying for the names on the tables that represent the Prodigals, the lost that we want to see return home. In Luke 15:17 it says that the young man ‘came to his senses’ and that was my prayer tonight. That wherever they are in the world, whatever they are doing, they would come to their senses and whether they think they have it good or otherwise they will remember what it was like in their Father’s House. In Jesus name they will come home.

Keep praying. Keep asking. Keep standing in faith for all the names you wrote. I am genuinely excited to see people we have prayed for coming into the Kingdom. Oh and by the way, do me a favour ~ let me know when something happens. When you have a conversation. When you invite and they say yes. When you lead someone to the Lord. However small, it encourages our faith!

Why not join me next Friday night. 7pm at the Xcel Centre and we can stand together to see the breakthrough.

Influence 2015.6

Well, that was phenomenal teaching from Canon J John about reaching people…

What does the church do?
Worship – well-being – witness
We spend 95% of finance on worship & well-being

A missionary is someone who crosses the sea but someone who sees the cross. 

Reach out in 3 ways
– praying – intentional

Start by reaching your world – cultivate the web of relationships we have – where we have failed – family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues

Identify some people and then be intentional in prayer for divine connections, opportunities for conversations

– caring
Praying leads to caring
We can’t reach everybody but we can reach somebody

– sharing

Always be prepared. Always be ready. 

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

If Only…

We can often use this as a get out clause. IF ONLY…

If only…all the t’s were crossed and the i’s dotted then I would feel better about saying yes.
If only…all the ducks were in a row, everything sorted, then I would go for it.
If only…angels would visit me then I would know God really wanted me to.
If only…I knew it would be a success.

Just as well those in the early Church didn’t have this philosophy. Think about it for a moment. If they had lived with an ‘if only’ attitude then you & I may never have heard the Gospel.

If only people weren’t hunting us down.
If only persecution wasn’t waiting for me.
If only people just believed and got it straight away.
If only it weren’t so inconvenient.
If only the Spirit would stop telling me that ‘prison and hardships are facing me’ [Pauls words in Acts 20:23]

They were incredible. The commitment to the cause transcended all their personal preferences. They gave everything for what they believed. Let’s be honest – we think we give everything but we rarely do. We give what we can afford, we give what we can, we give in a measured way, we give until it becomes inconvenient, we give thinking of what we might get in return.

When I read the book of Acts I am challenged. In fact I am confronted by a faith that goes beyond my 21st Century, Westernised, comfortable-living style of giving.

THEY GAVE.
EVERYTHING.

‘I consider my life worth NOTHING to me, IF ONLY I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace’.[Acts 20:24]

My prayer:
Please Lord, let me have the attitude like Paul. One that says ‘whatever it takes, being up for the challenge of telling others of the Good News of Jesus, whatever the cost’. Let me mean it too. Let this not just be another prayer to look good. Lord, put me in places that FORCE me to count the cost. To give. To give everything.

Are we IN?
ALL IN?
I don’t think the Apostle Paul would consider that there was really any other way.

Let’s Get Praying…

As Mark Ritchie encouraged us on Sunday night, we MUST focus on what we CAN do, not what we cannot do.

We should PRAY for the person we want to invite
We should be READY to TELL our STORY
We should INVITE

Be courageous. Let’s ALL give it a go. We might be surprised what God can do as we just try.

Who are you believing to see be impacted by God?
If you leave the first name of the person you are praying for then we can ALL pray…let’s start believing God to make a difference in the lives of the people we do life with…