Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Abide in His Love

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. - John 15:9

Abide means to: stay - stand - endure - reside - dwell - remain - bear.

Jesus not only says COME to me, FOLLOW me, he says ABIDE in me. If our relationship with Jesus has in any way disappointed, our expectations not met it would be best to look at our own heart rather then Jesus heart.

To often we come and even follow but to abide we find difficult. There is a richness yet to be discovered in the infinite sea of God's love for us. We have felt its cool touch on our tired feet as it laps around our ankles only to be distracted and wander off never understanding fully what we have turned our backs on.

We have been satisfied with a mere touch of his hand when he is waiting to embrace.

"The intercourse was not only to be unbroken, but most intimate and complete. He opened His arms, to press you to His bosom; He opened His heart, to welcome you there; He opened up all His divine fullness of life and love, and offered to take you up into its fellowship, to make you wholly one with Himself. There was a depth of meaning you cannot yet realise in His words: "Abide IN MY LOVE."" - Andrew Murray

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It's your devotion that will define you

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. - Psalm 63:1

There are many things that God could have chosen to define the life of David. He could have chosen to sum David by his mistakes. He could have said:

David a..... murder
David an.....adulterer

But he chose

David a.... man after my heart
David a.... man of devotion

After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ - Acts 13:22

Billy Graham said:

You cannot possibly be a happy, dynamic, and powerful Christian apart from a daily walk with Christ. Christ is calling Christians today to cleansing, to dedication, to consecration, and to full surrender. DEVOTION will make the difference between success and failure in your spiritual life. It will make the difference between being helped and helping others. It will make a difference in your habits, in your prayer life, in your Bible reading, in your giving, in your testimony, and in your church membership.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Surprising Leadership Goals

The great apostle Paul opens his hear to the believers in Philippi giving them the glimpse into the mind and heart of a Godly leader.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
 - Phil 3:12-14

Humbled by his own imperfections. Too often leaders take their eyes off their own weaknesses and sins and to readily see problems in those who are following. If only the people who they are leading were better examples of followers of Jesus then things would be a million times better around here.

Paul was never afraid to put his own frailties and difficulties up front. He didn't try to pretend he was something he wasn't in front of his followers. The recognition of his own imperfections kept his heart humble.

Honoured to be chosen by God. Leadership can go to peoples heads. It is amazing how people can react when they are given just a little bit of "power". No matter how gifted a leader we are we are not God's gift to the world, Jesus is! Paul understood that the only reason he was a leader was "because Christ Jesus has made him his own." 

God is not honoured because we are serving him we are honoured because he found us when we were not even looking for him and we get to serve him and his family.

Hungry for more of God. Leaders tend to be hungry driven goal oriented people. Church leaders always want more. If they have 50 people in their community of faith they want 100. If they have 100 they want 200. If they have 200 they want 500. If they have 100 people in small groups they want 200. If they have one location they want 2. The list goes on. There is nothing wrong with this. Its just that too often the quest for more of these things replace a quest for more of God.

Paul was probably one of the most "successful" leaders of Christianity. He literally had nowhere left to go in his region where he hadn't preached the gospel. (so he went to another region) But his hunger for MORE of God never abated.

Continue to be humbled before a holy God, savour the honour of serving and all powerful God & let the desperation of starvation drive you on to discover more of God.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chapters of Life - Doubt

Chapters of Life - Doubts from MKCCpreaching on Vimeo.

Today I had the opportunity to continue the Chapters of Life teaching series at MKCC - This week DOUBT

  • For too long the church has taught us that if we doubt its a sin. So we hide our doubts. But what I know is that hiding something doesn’t get rid of it it just gives it room to grow. 
  • It’s not the end of the world when we doubt – it’s how we deal with those doubts that’s important. 
  • So many people God works through in his Word were a mixture of belief and doubt. 
  • The fact is that the faith is required doubt is bound to lurk – the two are like stingy nettles and dock leaves – you’ll always find them together. 
  • Faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenceless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. (The Reason for God) - Tim Keller 
  • Zechariah was praying for a child and even when an angel appeared and told him his prayer was going to be answered. Believe it or not Zechariah doubted the message. 
  • God took away his voice for 9 months because of his doubt Somehow I think church would be quite quiet if we all lost our voices every time we doubted a promise of God to us. 
  • John The Baptist, the guy who had lept in his mothers womb at the news of Jesus, had a revelation on the shores of the Jordan river, baptised Jesus and watched the supernatural unfold before his eyes was having doubts, now he was in prison, that Jesus was the Messiah. 
  • What causes us to doubt? Crisis, Isolation & Time. 
  • John faced with his doubts only had one thing to do he went to Jesus. We must do the same. 
  • He does not always answer with the speed we desire, nor is his answer always the deliverance we hope for. But he will always send the help that is needed. His grace will always be sufficient for those who trust him. The hope we taste in the promises we trust will often be the sweetest thing we experience in this age. And his reward will be beyond our imagination. - Desiring God

Monday, July 15, 2013

Vision 500 - IBTI

My "OLD" friend John Whyte and his wife, Eliana, now lead the International Bible Training Institute in Sussex, England.

Through its long history the IBTI has prepared hundreds of students coming from different parts of the world and sent them back to fulfil God's purpose for their lives. Including our leader at MKCC - Mark Sherratt.

They are developing much needed facilities and MKCC is proud to be one of their Vision 500 partners. A fantastic investment.

Check out the video below for more information.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

12 Leadership Principles of Jesus

Thought this article from Leadership from the Heart was just too good not to repost:

There are many leaders I admire who have influenced my own leadership. I admire the teachings on leadership by guys like John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, and Patrick Lencioni. There are leaders from my personal life such as a former pastor, a former boss, a high school principal and leaders in my own community who have influenced me as I have watched their leadership.

I also love to learn from a great athletic coach. I have been known to choose the teams I support by the coach that leads them. I love leadership. It is so needed these days; especially in our churches. The principles, however, that I admire most are found in the leadership style of Jesus. Jesus’ leadership is still impacting culture today.

Here are 12 leadership principles of Jesus that inspire me:

  1. Jesus was willing to invest in people others would have dismissed. Consider the disciples. They were not the “religious” elite, yet Jesus used them to start His church.
  2. Jesus released responsibility and ownership in a ministry. Consider how Jesus sent the disciples out on their own. No micro-management it appears. 
  3. Jesus had a leadership succession plan. Jesus consistently reminded the disciples that He wouldn’t always be with them. Of course, He was still the “leader”, but He left others to take the ministry forward. 
  4. Jesus practiced servant leadership better than anyone. The King of kings was willing to wash the feet of His followers.
  5. Jesus was laser focused on His vision. Regardless of the persecutions or distractions, Jesus kept on the mission God had called Him to complete. 
  6. Jesus handled distractions with grace. When the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years touched His garment, Jesus stopped to heal her, even though headed to a definite purpose. 
  7. Jesus was into self-development. Jesus constantly slipped away to spend time with God. 
  8. Jesus was into leadership development and replacement. He very purposefully prepared the disciples to take over the ministry. He pushed people beyond what they felt they were capable of doing. 
  9. Jesus held followers to high expectations. Jesus was not afraid to make huge requests of people. “Follow Me” meant the disciples had to drop their agenda to do so. He told the disciples they must be willing to lose everything to follow Him. 
  10. Jesus cared more about people than about rules and regulations. He was willing to jeopardize Himself personally by breaking the “rules” to help someone in need. 
  11. Jesus celebrated success in ministry. He rewarded people generously who were faithful to Him and His cause. 
  12. Jesus finished well. Any questions whether His ministry was effective? Still working today. 
Any other reasons you admire the leadership of Jesus?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

All creatures of our God and King

Elevation Creative: All Creatures of Our God And King Remix from Elevation Church on Vimeo.

Watch video here if you can't see

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.

Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!

And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!

- Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

A man with a need couldn't get to Jesus because religion filled the house

Great message from Andrew Shearman at MKCC - Is it time to rip the roof off?

"One day four friends had another friend who was paralysed and they wanted to see him get better. So, they carried him to where they heard a man called Jesus of Nazareth was. When they got there to the house, it was a nice house apparently, they couldn’t get in because there were too many people.

The bible says that the scribes and the Pharisees and all the religious people from Jerusalem in Judea and all the villages around about had come to see this Jesus Christ and they had filled the house till there was no room in the house.

Religion had filled the house and a man with a need couldn’t get to Jesus because religion had filled the house. So they said “we’re not putting up with this” so they climbed up on the roof and ripped the roof off. This is another one of those dvds or however God’s got this technically recorded in heaven that I want to see when I get there. I’ve got lots of things I want to see when I get to heaven.

The owner of the house was no doubt standing in the middle of the house it was probably his lifetimes investment, he’d probably spent many years saving and building it and now the dust is falling around his feet as men are on the roof wrecking his lifetimes investment. I’m here to tell you sometimes it’s worth wrecking a lifetimes investment to get to Jesus. Depends how much you want it.

Some of you might have to change the way you think. A lifetime of intellectual arrogance might need to be ditched in order to let his blessed pierced hand touch you. Not necessarily? It might be, and if necessary we should be prepared to rip our particular roof off. Can I have a little amen to that?!!"

Monday, July 08, 2013

What's the number one reason you are on the planet?

Snippet of a preach from Andrew Shearman at MKCC

Can't see the video click here

Saturday, July 06, 2013

8 reasons NOT to be Anxious

Eight reasons not to be anxious. Originally posted by John Piper in his reading plan on Matthew 6:25-34.

  1. Life is more than food and the body more than clothing (Matthew 6:25). 
  2. God feeds the birds and you are more valuable than they are (Matthew 6:26). 
  3. It's pointless. It adds not one hour to your life (Matthew 6:27). 
  4. If God clothes ephemeral grass, he will clothe eternal you (Matthew 6:28-30). 
  5. Unbelievers are anxious about stuff. And you are not an unbeliever (Matthew 6:32a). 
  6. Your father knows that you need all these things you're anxious about (Matthew 6:32b). 
  7. When you seek first God's kingdom and righteousness, what you need is added to you (Matthew 6:33). 
  8. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Tomorrow's trouble stays there (Matthew 6:34).
"We should be slow to treat Jesus as if he doesn’t know what he is doing in our lives"

Friday, July 05, 2013

The Inheritance of Humility

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, God opposes the proud—but gives grace to the humble. - 1 Peter 5:5

Humility is a choice

"We have no humility by nature. There may be a softness of disposition, and a readiness to yield to others—but there is no true humility." - James Smith

However the choice is not simply to choose by our own force of will to enforce humility on our own puffed up ego. That for sure is to end in failure as eventually all our own acts of rightiousness.

To clothe ourselves in humility is to live in close fellowship with Jesus. By this we are transformed by the sanctifying and transforming work of the Holy Spirit, germinating and growing its fruit in our lives.

Humility puts God in your camp

Pride should be an oxymoron in a Christian's life. The very origin of the label Christian from "Christ like" about the believers in Antioch sets it in context of the greatest act of humility the universe has ever witnessed - The Incarnation.

So for those of us who have colided with our own inability to do anything about our eternal state, and discovered a a grace that we were nither look for or deserved, pride and arrogance should be an unwelcome stranger.

To invite the one, who has through the ultimate act of humility, exhalted us to heavens top table, to oppose us because of our pride is a special kind of insanity.

Humility brings an abundance of God's Grace.

The humble are God's special favorites. God will do anything for them, or give anything to them.

Grace to serve. Grace to endure trials. Grace to have comfort in poverty. Grace of deliverance from danger. Grace to sweeten our sickness. Grace to trust.

May I grow downward in humility before God. O to be like Jesus, rooted in humility. - James Smith

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Three BASIC Disciplines of Leadership

“too many leaders forget that they also need to manage themselves, since no one else is doing it; they fail to put into place key boundaries of self-leadership that the sheer volume of work and responsibilities can obscure.” - Dr Henry Cloud

Billy Hybels says that he was so busy doing the work of God that the work of God was killing the work of God in him.

Most church leaders and pastors are busy driven people. There is always something else to be done. Person to be visited, ministry to launch, book to be read, message to be prepared, e mail to be read.

But busyness can never be an excuse for lack of intimacy with God. Busyness rapes relationship. All too often the first thing that goes out the window are our basic spiritual disciplines.

We don't like the word disciple. But for sure if we sacrifice discipline we wander off the path that leads to intimacy with our saviour. Trying to shepherd his church without colliding daily with the heart & voice of the Good Shepherd will eventually scatter the sheep.

Read God's Word

Devour the Bible. If you don't have the time stop reading other books, blogs, tweets, posts, papers and everything else. No quotes from Piper, Chandler, Driscoll or even C S Lewis can bring the wisdom that the Holy Spirit can through his glorious Word.

Speak to God

Pastors can spend their life talking. Talking too long from the pulpit, talking in counsilling sessions, talking in small groups, talking to anybody and everybody they can on a Sunday morning, talking to other leaders & even talking to God on behalf of someone else.

For some being invited into the VIP lounge at the latest conference to talk to the celebrity speakers would be like all their birthdays come at once.

But nothing can replace the simple act of bowing your head coming alone to the very throne of God, leaning forward and whispering into the ear of the Father. Snatching a moment with your God that is not shared with another mortal. Glancing an eye God's way and capturing His heart.

Listen to God

Perry Noble said Leadership is as easy as listening to God and doing what he say. Church Leadership truly has entered the digital information age. Almost every church that has an internet connection finds a way to podcast. We have access like never before to great leadership voices around the world. A great blessing can become a great curse.

Instead of listening for 55 minutes to the latest Driscoll sermon take the hour to be silent and listen to hear what God wants to say. Driscoll doesn't know you or your situation from Adam. God does! Who would you rather listen too?

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Community Transformation

Community Transformation was a phrase I heard often yesterday at the Cinnamon Network Forum in London. (They are doing an amazing job)

No matter what the latest label or buzz word we attach, It was inspiring to be in a room with so many people who are all passionate to reach out to the communities God has placed them in. Here are some of my thoughts that I took away from the day.

  • Keep Jesus and his Good News (The Gospel) the main thing.

Without transformed hearts we will never have a truly transformed community. The bad news is mankind is sick with a deadly disease. Its called Sin. No matter what environment we create it in this world our sin will tarnish it. The Good News is that God sent a cure. His name was Jesus and through faith in Him we are part of His Kingdom.

Once in that Kingdom we have many responsibility's but the preeminent one that dwarfs all others is to "GO into all the world and make disciples."

Creating a better life and alleviating suffering (which we should do ) in this life without telling someone about eternal salvation is down right crazy.
  • Seek the favour of God before we seek the favour of politicians
In our current economic situation it would seem that the church, although being marginalised and ignored by many politicians, at the same time has the opportunity to step up.

The church and other faith groups are stepping into the gap that the government and local councils are leaving because of the need for spending cuts. Mobilising volunteers to deliver services.

That takes many of us into the political arena looking to gain favour and finance to expand our good works. We must always remember that MP's, Councillors & Party's come and go but Jesus remains forever on the throne. Courting the favour of God is much more valuable than the favour of a political party.
  • Release the treasure that God has put in our church
In every local church God has place treasure. They are called people. He has shaped every one of them in a unique way. Each has particular gifts, passion, abilities, personality and God given experiences on purpose to reach into this broken world and reach people for Jesus.

We must help people in our churches to discover this shape and then inspire and release them to radically pursue it with every fibre of their being.

  • Radical devotion to Jesus will bring the resource we need.

The Bible clearly states that in the very early church, NO ONE WAS IN NEED. Why? Because the believers in that early church were radical in the extreme. They sold possessions and land to meet needs.

It would seem often our dreams can be held back because of lack of finance. It would seem that at this present time there may be an opportunity for the church to receive finances from the Government. A god given opportunity? YES. But I also believe that God is always calling his people to a life of radical devotion.

You may not believe in tithing but some how I have this belief that if EVERYONE in the church just gave 10% of their income to Jesus we would be well on our way to financing most projects let alone if the whole church adopted the radical lifestyle of the infant church.

God continue to transform me!

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Please yourself

Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. - Psalm 135:6

Please Yourself... A phrase I heard my mum say quite often when I was growing up. It usually said with a little exasperation because yet again I wasn't listening, intent to embrace her words even if she hadn't said it. I was, no matter the consequences, going to ignore her advice and do it my own way.

The above verse drives me to my knees because it reminds me that God, who could always do whatever he pleased, chose to do something that seems impossible.

He sent his Son to die in my place. It wasn't if he had no choice. As John Piper puts it:

God never becomes the victim of circumstance. He is never forced into a situation where he must do something in which he cannot rejoice. He is not mocked. He is not trapped or cornered or coerced.

In fact the prophet Isaiah says:

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief - Isaiah 53:10

The hardest act of God is said to be pleasing to Him. And Jesus on his way to the cross says: "For the JOY set before him".

Pleasure and joy sit uncomfortably with me when associated with hurt and death. Set by it's self there can be no pleasure no joy. But set in the context of God redemptive plan for all mankind the landscape changes.

Only then can the beauty and "the a fragrant offering" (Eph 5:2) of the sacrifice of God be seen its true context.

The barbaric becomes the beautiful because God was free to please himself.