X-Ray Your Motives

This was Gods word this morning…then every church will know that appearances don’t impress me. I x-ray every motive and make sure you get what’s coming to you [Rev 2:23b]

I definitely sat up when I read this.

Image maybe meaningful within the world. The idea that we must ‘have’ certain stuff or have attained a certain ‘level’ of success. The risk is that stuff and success become the reason for our existence, the focus of our energies and the basis for how we think people might view us.

Yet it seems that appearance is nothing to God. Such things don’t impress Him.

Instead, God x-rays every motive and rewards it accordingly. He sees the good in our heart. He also sees the selfishness in out heart. He sees faith in Him that resides in our heart. He also sees the obstacles of unforgiveness, of pride and hurt that can also be in my heart and get in the way of that faith.

So I ask myself the obvious question ~ what are my motives for doing what I do? After all if God examines my heart then He recognises the why behind the what ~ why I am doing what I am doing.

Am I looking for approval?

Am I looking for personal recognition?

Am I looking for my own success?

Am I going after applause? Or…

 Will I just serve faithfully even if I never receive any public affirmation?

Will I give without any guarantee of return?

Will I put my trust in God and that my reward will come from Him?

So I make a response today: that I will reflect on my motives and repent of any that are misplaced, selfish or not mindful of God’s best interest for me and my family.

How about you?

What Has My Heart?

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭19-21‬ MSG)

What has my heart? Let’s get past the twee answer of Jesus. Instead let’s be willing to examine our hearts more closely and see if what we say is actually what is happening.

What has my heart is where I will end up. So how do I make sure that I am stockpiling treasure in heaven? It sounds a little easier than it might be. After all, life is about getting. That’s the message that is around us most of the time.  Plus if you want it and can’t afford it, there’s always a way to make it happen.

What has my heart? I should consider that my heart is under attack all the time. Just like a piece of land being invaded by an enemy force, that’s what can happen with my heart, if I allow it. As I walk then I do all I can to protect my heart. Stuff that the world can offer may satisfy for a moment but if my desire is to walk with God then my heart has to be filled with the right, God kind of stuff. The kind of stuff that will ensure that I experience the presence of God now and in eternity.

Paul prayed in Ephesians that we would be filled with the fullness of God. I like that idea. To do that means there is less room for other things. What has my heart? My heart is held by those things that God is full of.

God is about people, so my heart should be for people.

God is about His Word, so my heart should be for His Word.

God is about His Church, so my heart should be about His Church. 

God is about compassion, so my heart should be filled with compassion.

God is about transformation, so my heart should be for that too.

Lord, please don’t let me make do with filling my heart with the stuff that just doesn’t last. Instead, help me to open my heart so you can fill it with the fullness of You. Full of all the things that are important to You. Amen

My Greatest Leadership Challenge

The other evening with a bunch of young leaders I was asked a great question ~ what has been your biggest leadership challenge and how did you overcome it?

For a moment I struggled. Not that I have never had a challenge in my leadership, but when you reflect on a question like this it can be difficult to articulate your answer. All along my leadership journey there have been times of challenge, you just don’t always realise it. If you’re anything like me, you’ve just got on with it and with Gods help, overcome them.

My answer (prompted by my wife) was ‘2008’.

The leadership challenge in 2008 was this – I could have left church. I thought I was exactly where God wanted me to be. Then, without notice, things changed. A combination of events knocked me, which created a challenge I am convinced that all of us will go through at some point…

I am offended. What will I do in response to what has been done to me, to what has offended me?

All I can say is that there will be moments when you will be offended. Guaranteed. Someone is going to say something, do something, respond in a way that upsets you, something you have been doing will be taken from you. An ‘unexpected event’ that will ask questions of your motives, your values and quite likely, your faith.

Somehow I chose to respond in the right way.

Well, I hear you cry, that’s easy for you, you’re a Pastor. Not sure why people think that way. I’m just a normal person who gets upset about the same kind of stuff that everyone else gets upset by. Plus I wasn’t then, at least not in the role like I am in today.

This is not about me bragging. Looking back the reason I survived that challenge, and therefore my family survived, was because my heart was not going to be moved. At some point previously I had determined that come what may, my heart will not be moved.

My heart is for God. My heart is for my family. My heart is for His church. My heart is for Xcel. It is my home and I have no intention of leaving home. I don’t ever want me or my my family to be homeless.

On reflection, 2008 wasn’t really that much of challenge because I had already passed tests on other occasions. I just hadn’t realised it. Yet when I look back on my life I can see the times when my heart was tested.

1998. Some difficult work stuff as a Financial Adviser.

1999. Would I move to London for a job?

2001. A huge step of faith.

2003. Looking for some extra income which led to a ‘miracle’ job.

Then 2008. And since then, some even bigger challenges that have tested my heart.

My only advice, especially to those who lead. Choose today where your heart should be and then stay there. I have learned that there is nothing SO big that happens where God is not BIGGER, that He cannot help me overcome.

Psalm 15 puts it like this…

Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbour no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honour those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.

That is the kind of life I want to live. My prayer is that with Gods help and the Holy Spirit, I can.

Test Your Heart…Day 20

20 days into this 90 days of believing for breakthrough, for growth. How is it going for you? Are you seeing any change yet?

Don’t know about you but as I read the Word and pray, I am learning things all the time. Reading through Chronicles. Amidst the lists there are some mighty gems…

1 Chronicles 29:17 David is conversing with God and makes an incredible, challenging statement. ‘I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity.’

I had to pause when I read this. God tests the heart. God tests MY heart. What does He discover? Does He find integrity there? Does the content of my heart include those things which God would look for?

It’s a challenging thought that I would love comments on…does not having integrity in my heart mean that my breakthrough might be delayed in coming?