Don’t Be Flip

Sometimes we can start to take stuff forgranted. Things like..we will always have a job, we will always have our health, we will live forever, our partners know that we love them. Problem with taking things forgranted…it can catch up on us, then SUDDENLY those very same things become BIG problems.

As it is in the natural, so it is with God. We must not take God forgranted.

Matthew 7:6 ‘”Don’t be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you’re only being cute and inviting sacrilege.” The Message

Watch yourselves.
Watch the attitude towards God.
Yes, He will always be there.
Yes, He will never leave us.
Yes, His mercies are new every morning.

But…DON”T BE FLIP about these things. Don’t show inappropriate levity towards things that demand much greater respect. Our Christian walk is not to be dealt with flippantly.
Give them the correct honour that they deserve.
Remember to give God His rightful place in our life.
Honour, relevance, respect. It’s about lifestyle. It’s about consistency. It’s about integrity.
It’s not about living so close to the edge that we only look silly and misrepresent who God is and all that He has done in our lives.

Take time each day to honour your Father who heaven.
Spend time with Him, deliberately.
Don’t be FLIP with Him, just expecting that such a way is okay.

[Just my thoughts….what do you think?]

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Leaders Set The Pace

Your life has the opportunity to influence in so many ways. The problem is that many of these opportunities are either ignored or not even seen.

Reading Job 29, you see an individual who looked out, saw needs and met them. He was a one man servolution. It comes in response to his ‘friends’ and their determined effort to have him confess to guilty pleasures, some secret sin in his life, something that obviously wasn’t there. It would have been easy to confess to something bearing in mind the circumstances he found himself in, easy to think that they may have been right.

But Job stood strong.
Job was very self-aware. He knew where he had come from, what his life represented, that amongst his community he was a leader, someone that people looked to.

Leaders set the mood.
Leaders set the pace.
Leaders do this not only for themselves but for the community in which they live.
Job was a man of integrity.
He was also a man of influence too.

v25 ‘I was their leader, establishing the mood & setting the pace by which they lived. Where I led, they followed.’ [message]

Does your life stand up to the tests of integrity and influence?
Are the strong enough to hold you when others would push you to compromise?

How Strong Are Your Principles?

Interesting the words that Job uses during the dialogue with his ‘friends’.

He stands his ground.
He does not compromise despite their well-intentioned comments.
He certainly doesn’t blame God.
He will not admit to wrong that he knows he has not done.

Job 17:9: ‘But principled people hold tight, keep a firm grip on life, sure that their clean, pure hands will get stronger and stronger!’ (Message)

Hold tight – to your words, to your thoughts, to your principles. Easy to know God in the great times but faith enables us to hold tight through the tough times too.

Keep a firm grip – don’t let go of the knowledge that Jesus said he came to give us life, an abundant life. In circumstances like that which Job was experiencing, you need to be determined to ‘keep a firm grip on life’ and not give up.

Get stronger and stronger – staying humble before God, holding on to your principles, keeping hold of God will make you stronger even in times of weakness. ‘Let the weak say I am strong’, God is our strength in times of weakness…the challenge is remembering this.

Are You Reading the Bible?

I really enjoy reading the Word of God.

I know that can be an easy thing to say and not so easy to do but reading the Bible has become a vital part of who I am and in helping me become all that God needs me to be. How about you? How is your reading going? I was amazed the other day that in her class assembly while everyone else is talking about all kinds of other books my 8 year old is telling everyone how her favourite thing to read is the Bible ‘it’s God’s diary’.

Stuck on how to read the Bible. Here are some things that have helped me & might help you…

1. Get a version that is easy to read. NIV, Message, NLT, NCV. This year I am reading through the Message version.
2. Have it with you all the time. I use youversion on my phone which means I can read wherever, whenever.
3. Bookmark anything that speaks to you, makes you think, challenges or you want to study further. Use a notebook, underline or save on your phone.
4. Have a plan. No excuses these days as there are all sorts of reading plans available that can help you. This is my plan 180 Bible Plan. I miss days but I do my very best to stick to this for the first 6 months of the year.
5. Keep going. Let’s be honest, some parts of the Bible are just plain hard work (or is that just me) but just keep reading, ask God to help you.
6. Read a good chunk at time. I know some who just read a verse a day but for me, it’s important to read a good chunk so I get a better feel for what’s happening, to see things in a bigger context. With reading the Bible you have to remember there is only one golden rule…that you actually read it on a regular basis!!

A while I go I commented on something that J I Packer had said, that every Christian worth their salt should read the Bible through. It got quite a reaction. How can we say that? Isn’t that religion? Well maybe, but personally I think it’s more a case of why don’t you want to read all the Bible? I know it doesn’t make a you Christian or even a better one but from what I have seen in my own walk…when I’m in the Word on a regular basis life just seems to be better. When I’m not in the Word…it just seems easier to drift.

So the question to you as a Christian is…are you reading your Word?
Create some space to accomplish this one thing which I guarantee will enhance your walk with God!!

Living in the Impossible

41kvsoXncfL._SL125_Jesus tells us that if we want to come after him we have to deny ourselves and take up our cross. The way to find yourself is to lose yourself. This is the IMPOSSIBLE call of the Christian faith.

Culture almost dictates to us that we should find out who we are, that ‘I’ am the most important person in my world, that everything I have, want and desire is okay because ‘I’ feel better, ‘I’ am made complete if I have them.

Culture teaches us to be self-aware, to be self-taught, to enjoy self-discovery, to learn self-help, to become self-absorbed even, to see God in all that you do and that YOU have all you need within you to live a successful life. Rather than challenge this thinking, maybe the Church has at times encouraged this.

Then you read the words of Jesus. ‘Lay down your life’. ‘Lose yourself’. ‘Die to yourself’. ‘Pick up your cross’. ‘Follow me.’ Is it any wonder that many choose not to. This is a tough call. Not just difficult – IMPOSSIBLE. In his book, Simply Christian, Tom Wright states that ‘the only way for us to live this life is to draw strength from beyond ourselves, the strength of God’s Spirit’.

This was the crescendo for me as I read Simply Christian. Slow at first but then increasing in momentum has the challenge to ‘reflect the image’ was laid out, thoughtfully but with enough of a push to make you feel uncomfortable about how you walk with God.

Loved the image of living in the overlap, the place where heaven and earth interlock. Every time we pray, take communion, worship, read the Bible, bringing all that God has done for us into the present. Walking in this reality makes us effective for God I’m sure, led by the Spirit not by culture or self.

The last page lays it out so convincingly:
‘We are called to be part of God’s new creation, called to be agents of that new creation here and now. We are called to model and display that new creation in symphonies and family life, in restorative justice and poetry, in holiness and service to the poor, in politics and painting’.

To take a phrase that we have used recently at Xcel Church – living in the impossible, by the strength God provides, help us to repaint the landscape of Christianity in our worlds, in this region, in our town.

Made for spirituality, we wallow in introspection. Made for joy, we settle for pleasure. Made for justice, we clamour for vengeance. Made for relationship, we insist on our own way. Made for beauty, we are satisfied with sentiment.’

It’s time to grow up. Time to grasp a hold of it. To leave behind the brokenness and incompleteness that this world offers and take up our proper role.

This is a recommended read, if you like more to think about, more depth to your knowledge but to still be challenged enough to change how you live the Christian life. Take your time in the reading and you won’t be disappointed. Get your copy here.

Reading the Bible

I have just finished reading through the Bible in 6 months, something which I have done for the last 5 or 6 years. It was a discipline I put in place because I wasn’t reading my Bible enough, if at all, although I was devouring other books easily.

Now I look forward to the start of the New Year and commencing to read through again. I have been asked if I have a plan – not particularly. I just start in Genesis and read through, aiming to complete around 7 Chapters each day. Some days I read more, other days I read less and do you know what – some years it’s taken until September to complete the read through, it’s not a ‘must-do’ thing but a desire.

Why read the Bible through?
Not to prove my worth.
Not to tick a box either.

I read it to get to know more about my God. The closer I get to Him, the more I want to read. The more I read, the closer I get to Him, the more I learn about how God views life, the more I learn about how God wants me to live my life.

I do study. I like to dig into the scripture too. I ‘bookmark’ verses (especially easy with the Bible on my phone now) and during the 2nd half of the year I will journey through some of them and dig a little deeper into them. I may even preach out of some of them. I definitely want to learn more, discover more, get some revelation.

It’s great to read how other Pastors view this too. Mark Batterson is reading the Bible through the year. Here are some thoughts he recently shared. What are your thoughts? I commented that some may view this as ‘religious’, especially the J I Packer quote which I put on my twitter – his reply is great and makes the point so much better than I can…

If it comes across as legalistic I think it can be a turn-off. So I totally understand the reaction. But it might be because it’s convicting too…

I definitely subscribe to something Oswald Chambers said: “Let God be as original with others as he was with you.” So I don’t like prescribing things like “you have to read through the entire Bible” in a year. But the truth is this: will that lead to growth. Absolutely. So the more you want to grow the more you’ll read. I don’t think you can get around that.

Mark

Finished Reading Matthew

It’s been great to read the Gospel of Matthew – especially knowing that many others were reading the same scriptures, at the same time. Seemed to bring an extra dimension to the whole thing – great discussions along the way.

My final thoughts:
Matthew 26: Don’t follow Jesus at a distance.
That’s what Peter did. When you follow at a distance it makes it easier to deny.
Sticking closer to Jesus means there should be less danger of anything getting in between you & your Saviour.

Matthew 28: Go…
It’s a simple mandate really. 4 things that we can all be involved in – at any level…
GO
MAKE DISCIPLES
BAPTISE THEM
TEACH THEM

So…
what did you enjoy the most reading through Matthew?
what challenged you the most when reading Matthew?
have you changed anything as a result of reading Matthew?

Matthew 18

I love that Jesus says that to be called great in the kingdom of heaven you must humble yourself like a child. Up to a certain age a child has great innocence, a simplicity of faith, a complete trust in those closest to them. Only when we grow up do we become argumentative, challenging, moody, small in faith, ask why rather than why not and generally lose sight of what it takes be truly great.

Maybe that’s a generalisation.

I love that Jesus lets us in on a kingdom principle. Whatever we bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. This is an incredible statement. Dare I say an under-estimated statement.

Come on – do we forget the authority we have?
If two of us agree about anything we ask for, it will be done for us! Amazing.

Top read posts from reading the Gospel of Matthew Matthew 1, Matthew 6, Matthew 5