Here Am I, Send Me!

Isaiah 6:8-9 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” And he said, “Go, and say to this people..”

God is looking to and fro across the earth for people he can use to accomplish specific assignments in the building of his kingdom. Before Isaiah became a prominent prophetic voice to Israel, he firstly was an everyday believer in God who made himself available. Availability is the first prerequisite for being used mightily by God. Isaiah 1:19 says, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land“. To answer God’s call on your life, you must be first willing and secondly obedient. Not only did God call Isaiah but he counselled him in what to say. Too often we are attempting to come up with something inspirational that will connect with people, rather than simply sharing out of the well of what God has already revealed to us. If you want God to call you and use you mightily, first examine your heart and ask, “Am I available? Am I willing? Am I going to obey what he’s asked me to do? Selah!

Is the Church still the Pillar of Truth?

1 Timothy 3:14-15 “I’m writing these things to you so that you may know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.”

The Apostle Paul identified the church as a ‘pillar and buttress of the truth‘. If there is any group of people on the planet that needs to know and represent the truth of Jesus Christ well, it’s the people of God. Representing the teachings of Jesus well doesn’t mean selecting a few verses out of the gospels that suit your position on the latest social issue but requires understanding the whole context of the bible, including the Old Testament, the epistles, as well as the historical and apocalyptic literature that make up the New Testament. Unfortunately, we are witnessing a shift away from truth as the bible reveals, within the church, because of pressure from the surrounding culture. The antichrist spirit is gaining momentum across the media and culture at large, making it easier for fence sitters in the church to choose the broad pathway that leads to death instead of the narrow pathway that leads to life. More and more believers are using Jesus name to justify ideologies that aren’t even in the ball park of what the Scripture teaches. This demonstrates poor exegesis and a growing ignorance of the fundamental teachings of the Word of God. It appears that some believers are basing their beliefs on feelings to suit their conversations with family, peers and voices in the media rather than on the solid rock of God’s Word. It’s becoming a case of the blind leading the blind. The universal church, by and large, has held onto essential orthodox beliefs for 2,000 years because the truths underpinning these beliefs have been painstakingly clear in Gods Word for 2,000 years. It’s only been in recent times that we are now seeing such liberal views of Scripture infiltrate the church on a mass scale. This is a time for the church to be revived in its passion for God and truth, and not only for people and grace. This is a time for the church to be revived in its belief in the authority of Scripture, interpreting it and applying it in a way that honours God first and foremost, whether it’s popular or not. Explosive Insights!

Not One Word Will Fail!

Joshua 21:45 “Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.”

Everyone of us knows the feeling of wanting to give up on a delayed word God has spoken over our lives and into our hearts. We don’t see the reality of it in our expected time line and we conclude its not going to come to pass. Israel must have felt like this for hundreds of years. Centuries before Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land, God spoke to Abraham about the land of Canaan being given as a possession to the nation that God would raise up from Abraham’s seed. Several generations had passed since that word, including 400 years of slavery in Egypt, and yet towards the end of the book of Joshua we read of God’s faithfulness to his promises to Israel. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to Israel failed. They all came to pass. God is true to his word. Heaven and earth may pass away but his word remains forever. Whatever promise God has given to you and however long ago you received it, it will not fall to the ground empty but will accomplish what God has sent it to you to perform. Stand your ground, hold onto God’s promise and trust in God’s faithfulness. Every word will come to pass. Explosive Insights!

Don’t get the thief and the Lord mixed up!

John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.”

The thief in this passage represents the Devils agenda to steal, kill and destroy our lives. In contrast, Jesus said he has come to give us life in all of its fullness. Unfortunately, many people get the thief and the Lord mixed up. Too often we withhold from God our trust, availability and obedience because we think we are going to miss out on something. Instead we indirectly give to the enemy our best thoughts, resources and energies by believing lies about God and ourselves that ultimately rob us of the abundant life Jesus made available for us. When it comes to the issue of sin, the thief uses condemnation to destroy us but God uses conviction to promote us into our identity as sons and daughters of God. Don’t get the thief and the Lord mixed up in your life. The thief masquerades himself to be something he isn’t in order to steal, kill and destroy Gods purposes in our lives but God reveals himself as he is to bring us into the abundant life of his kingdom. Don’t get the thief and the Lord mixed up! Explosive insights!

Less Fashion, More Fire!

kneeling_in_prayer“In the last days.. People will have the appearance of godliness, but deny its power.” (2 Tim 3)

I love fashion but fashion doesn’t save someone from hell. It seems like some preachers are more concerned for how they looked than how their sermon was cooked. Leonard Ravenhill once said,

No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organisers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few prayers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors; few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.

Simplify to Clarify!

Woman Shouting with BullhornIt’s been said that an academic takes something simple and makes it complex but a communicator takes something complex and makes it simple. There is way too much complexity in the world. Most of us are overwhelmed by information and more information leads to more complexity. Getting your message across to people requires you to cut through the complexity by keeping things simple and concise. The more detail, the less clear. Detail is ok for back of house but not for front of house, where people are going to see it. Jesus was a master communicator who took complex spiritual realities and tied them to everyday experiences and activities. Thus, 2000 years later, we are benefitting from the clarity Jesus lived and ministered with. Your message is too important to be unclear about it. Very few people can pull off clever and keep their message clear. Bother less about being clever and focus more on being clear. Your audience will appreciate you for it.

Keys to Communication!

IMG_1240I recently posted on Communication Carries Anointing and emphasised the importance of developing communication skills, both of a conversational and corporate nature. Here are some further tips to take your communication to the next level.

1 Big Idea! All good communication theory emphasises the centrality of 1 big idea. No matter what you are reading or who you are listening to, ask yourself 2 questions, “What is the writer/speaker talking about?” AND “What is the writer/speaker saying about what they are talking about?” In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul is talking about “Love” but in context of 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 he’s saying that love should be the motivation for why we do what we do, especially in the arena of spiritual gifts. Listen and look for the 1 big idea. A great read on this is “Biblical Preaching” by Haddon Robinson.

Clarity trumps clever! A lot of us want to be clever but very few of us can pull it off. However, clarity will trump clever every time. Stop trying to be clever and work hard on making your ideas as concrete and clear as possible and people will connect with them more. Confusion in the pulpit will lead to confusion in the pew. Putting your ideas to paper helps clarify them. A great resource for this is a book titled “Make it Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath (I think).

Anointing doesn’t make up for lack of discipline! Practice, Practice, Practice. Every Friday morning for 2 years I practiced my weekend sermon in an empty auditorium with my parents listening and critiquing my content and presentation.

Tell lots of Stories! Everyone loves a good story. A good story will communicate your principle for you. Learn to tell stories well by finding them in your everyday life and start sharing them with anyone who will listen. The more you tell, the better you’ll get.

Listen to Good Communicators! There are a plethora of opportunities to listen to great communicators. Don’t just listen to be entertained but go behind their communication and listen for how they approached their subject. TED and iTunes is a good place to start. Check out Corey Turner Ministries (shameless plug 🙂

Develop Conversational Intelligence! Read Conversational Intelligence by Judith Glaser and put the principles into action.

Read and Listen! The more you read the more you’ll deposit into your mind a dictionary of words that you can pull out as you need them. Listening improves speaking. Ask good questions and then listen for the response. Log the response away in your heart and act on it at your next opportunity.

Structure your Outline! Don’t outline your notes into paragraphs but develop structure. Write your point and then explain your point, illustrate your point and apply your point. Transition to the next point and repeat the process.

Pray, Pray and Pray Some More! Our words are fruitless without the Holy Spirit. Ask for fresh fire and flow with the leading of the Spirit as you speak.

Communication Carries Anointing!

IMG_1240Your communication carries your anointing. Every believer is anointed but not every believer can carry their anointing through their communication. (God)

This is a really important insight. John Maxwell would articulate the insight above with the words, ‘Everyone communicates, few connect’. I’ve observed many anointed people over my lifetime but what separates those who hit the bullseye of people’s hearts and those who don’t is their ability to communicate what that anointing is. Your communication carries your anointing into people’s hearts. You maybe greatly anointed but if you are unable to articulate to others in an effective way, your anointing is inhibited. The anointing is the person and power of the Holy Spirit on you and in you for the purpose to which he has called and gifted you. The anointing is linked to your calling, gifting and purpose. Develop your capacity to communicate cause it will either help or hinder the potential of your anointing to minister to people’s lives effectively.

Repetition is the Mother of Skill!

Tipping+Point+Book+Malcolm+Gladwell+LatestMalcolm Gladwell has recently popularised the 10,000 hour rule in his landmark work, “The Tipping Point”. The 10,000 hour rule is the idea that to become world-class in any activity or pursuit requires a total time commitment of 10,000 hours. Be it in golf, public speaking or playing guitar, the 10,000 hour rule is fairly consistent right across the board of professionals and world-class contributors in their chosen field. You may not desire to be world-class in any activity you are engaged in but the principle of focus and repetition can’t be underestimated if you desire to become more effective. Unfortunately, too many of us are lazy and possess a, “I can’t be bothered” outlook on life that is very selfish and fails to steward the gifts God has blessed us with. I don’t always want to go the 2nd mile but I’m learning it reaps fruitful dividends if I’m willing to put the work in. Maybe its time to stop making excuses and start logging the hours up. You’ll wake up one day and be glad you did.

Tips for Public Speaking

I talk for a job, I talk for my living, I talk for my calling, and there is nothing that frustrates me more than hearing poor public speaking at times when effective communication is required and critical.

I’m writing this as I sit in an event that had a speaker that really struggled and turned me off very quickly.

All of us have sat through speeches at a wedding, funeral, party, church service or significant corporate event and either squirmed in our seat or been captivated by the dynamic or lack of words, ideas and images that poured forth from the individual talking.

When given an opportunity to speak publicly, in whatever capacity, we should consider it a privilege and thus take it seriously. Why? Because for a minute, 10 minutes or an hour we have an opportunity to influence people in one of the most effective ways available to us.

History has revealed to us that speaking, preaching and teaching has been the core vehicle used in every culture to transmit important and life changing information. It’s never going away, no matter how far technology advances. Why? Because someone will always need, require or desire, someone else to communicate to them important information.

If the Gospel is worth communicating, it’s worth communicating well. The letter of Romans in the New Testament exhorts those with the gift of speaking, to speak as the Oracles of God.

How do we speak as the Oracles of God?

Speak after Preparation – Impromptu speaking can work effectively if the individual is very sharp on their feet and has had years of training but 99% of the time you will need to prepare. Time fails to fully articulate all of the insights and principles needed to learn how to prepare for speaking thoroughly but a well prepared talk, speech or sermon is better than an impromptu one. Experts tell us it takes about 10,000 hours to become world class at any skill or task. The best time to start preparing for speaking is now. Read, study, record thoughts and ideas on paper and remember a sermon gets better with age, just like a good wine. Talk out your thoughts and ideas for your talks with a loved one or any passer by that will listen to you. Just talk. The key to great speaking is preparation, preparation, preparation.

Speak with Clarity – If it’s unclear in the pulpit it will be mass confusion in the pew. Work hard to keep it simple and keep it clear. Forget about being clever. People don’t remember clever, they remember clear.

Speak with Passion – Your topic could be on ‘Stamp Collecting’ but if you speak about it passionately, people will listen to you. Passion attracts an audience and people respond to passion. If you’re going to speak, please speak with passion.

Speak with Insight – We don’t need more information, we need insight that will help crack the code of people’s hearts. Insight comes from reading between the lines. Insight isn’t always obvious, it’s never on the surface, it’s hidden and you need to search it out. It requires you to think hard and it requires inspiration. Inspired thinking comes from a real, tangible relationship with Gods Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspires our thoughts and brings to our minds and hearts ideas and revelations that end up in books, sermons and human hearts. Pray for insight, study for insight and record your insights. Why? The world needs them. We’ve got enough unhelpful information. We are saturated with information. We need insight.

Speak into the Context – Speaking to an audience is never in a vacuum. Understand the context of your speaking engagement. The audience, the venue, the expectations, the outcomes and hit the target.

I really believe if you put these tips into action you will become a better speaker and maybe impact someone’s life.

The Oracle!