Genesis 6:22 “Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.”
Life is complex! Complexity seems to grow the longer one lives. Everyone at some point in their life feels overwhelmed by the complexity that exists, not only in our culture but in our personal lives. Noah, the great patriarch, found himself alive at a time when the complexity of man’s wickedness was at an all time high. Every intention of man’s heart was perpetually evil and God decided to hit the reset button of humanity and start again. However, Noah was an exception. Noah found favour with God and walked with him all the days of his life. Noah became the patriarch of a remnant that would begin the re-genesis of humanity but it required uncompromising obedience. God asked Noah to build a huge boat to preserve a remnant of humanity and the animal kingdom for the rebirth of the planet. Without any evidence of weather patterns pointing to rain or any historical context to aid his boat building directive, Noah did everything God asked of him and ended up saving the future of the world. Noah is the original superhero. The complexity of your life will only be eased when you settle firmly in your heart the Lordship question. Who is Lord over my life? Am I Lord or is God my Lord? When you surrender your heart to God and live for the audience of one, you resolve 10,000 problems all at once. Why? Because your hearts affections and directions are shaped solely around one primary thing, obeying God without reservation. Selah!
Romans 4:20-21 “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
The Apostle Paul writes of Abraham’s relentless faith in the face of contradiction and delayed fulfilment of God’s promise to him. God was more than able to do what he had promised Abraham but for Abraham to receive the fulfilment of the promise, he had to hold steadfast his conviction in God’s goodness. God doesn’t promise you something if he doesn’t intend to bring it to fulfilment. If you’ve received a promise from God, hold steadfast to your conviction and do not waver. Press through the obvious obstacles in faith and keep giving glory to God, being fully convinced of his goodness toward you and his faithfulness to His word in your life. Selah!
Matthew 4:19-20 And he said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
We live in a culture where many people are trying to be first but Jesus call to follow him is an invitation to be second. Answering this call requires humility and a willingness to leave our safety nets behind. Before Jesus disciples could follow him, they had to let go of their nets. Some of Jesus disciples were professional fisherman, they earned their living from catching fish. Their nets represented their jobs and income. Jesus was asking them to put it all on the line because you can’t follow Jesus and still hold onto your nets. Everyone of us have have nets in our lives. They range from reputation to relationships to remuneration. What are the nets in your life, you need to let go of to answer Jesus’ call to follow him? Selah!
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!
Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.”
In a culture of shallow spirituality and surface level living, it’s easy to be deceived by the appeal of the glitter and sparkle of vain things. Our original mother, Eve, found herself in a conversation with Satan on such matters and listened to the voice of deception, rather than the voice of discernment. She looked at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and approached the fruit in 3 ways: 1) She saw it was good food for her stomach; 2) It was a delight to her eyes and 3) It was a fulfilment of the desire of her heart. Eve failed to trust in God’s goodness to provide all three for her, took matters into her own hands and acted independently of God. If we aren’t discerning of the lies of Satan , we will end up distrustful of God’s goodness and grace in our lives, and become victims to the deception of sin. Not everything that glitters is gold. Ask God for greater discernment in your spirit and sharpen your spiritual awareness through God’s Word, and you won’t fall prey to the lies of the enemy. Hebrews 4:12 says, “the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Selah!
Numbers 24:12-13 And Balaam said to Balak, “Did I not tell your messengers whom you sent to me, ‘If Balak should give me his house full of silver and gold, I would not be able to go beyond the word of the Lord, to do either good or bad of my own will. What the Lord speaks, that will I speak’?
In Israel’s journey through the wilderness, Balaam the prophet was asked to prophesy a curse against Israel by Balak, the king of Moab because the king feared God’s people. The king believed that Balaam’s prophetic declarations had power to change natural circumstances and if Balaam would prophesy destruction against Israel, it would come to pass. The king offered riches to Balaam to prophesy a curse and the context of the story suggests Balaam wrestled with the request in his heart. However, for Balaam, silver and gold wasn’t as important as obeying and honouring God’s will both for his own life and for Israel. Everyone of us will face moments in our lives where we will have to decide between following our will or God’s will. Temptations will come to compromise on the conviction of God’s will in our own hearts. There is something greater than silver and gold and more important than satisfying the desires of our own will and that is living in the centre of God’s will for our lives. I want to encourage you, no matter what the temptation, the next time you wrestle between obeying God’s will or following your own will, stay true to what God is calling you to do and let God take care of your rewards. Selah!
Philippians 3:13-14 But this 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.
About this time of year, the passion of New Year’s resolutions and goals begin to wane, as the rush of everyday responsibilities consume us. I want to encourage you to not let the busyness and routine of everyday life crush your hopes and dreams for 2018. 2018 can and should be your best year yet, regardless of what circumstances may be threatening to steal your peace. Having the best year of your life doesn’t mean you’ll never have to face challenges or difficulties. It comes back to your focus on what God has spoken into your heart, as well as sticking to your core convictions. What you choose to focus on is what will impact your life in 2018 more than anything else. There are some things in life we cannot control. There is no point allowing your focus or peace to be distracted by these things. What you must focus on are those things you’ve been entrusted with and can take responsibility for. I’ve learnt that if I will play my part and give 100% to what I’ve been called to do, the rest of my life takes care of itself. Take heart, God is for you and he has anointed you with talents, abilities and responsibilities that require your attention. The arena you will see the most reward from is connected to you focusing on those very gifts and strengths that God has entrusted you with. Stay focused. Explosive Insights!
Insecurity! Everyone of us suffer from it at some point in our lives, whether we acknowledge it or not. Unfortunately, it’s rooted in our fallen nature and begins to surface in childhood. Many adults still have an insecure child in them due to a significant emotional trauma in their past.
Insecurity is like a heavy ball and chain weighing you down and disrupting your relationships with others. Insecurity is a feeling of unease and vulnerability due to a perception of feeling threatened in some way. Insecurity is a lack of deep understanding and confidence in our personal value and a lack of security in our personal identity.
A classic example of insecurity is King Saul (1 Samuel 9:21). From the very beginning Saul suffered from deep insecurity and it undermined his relationships and calling.
Symptoms of insecurity include:
1. Withdrawal and isolation from others.
2. An overly controlling personality.
3. Constant aggressive behavior.
4. Constant avoidance of confrontation.
5. Over-compensatory behavior
6. Defensive mechanisms towards others.
7. Mask wearing.
The downward spiral of insecurity looks like:
– Comparison to others
– Compensation of behavior
– Competition of others
– Compulsive behavior
– Condemnation of oneself
– Control the outcome
As you look at how insecurity manifests itself, we conclude it’s simply unhealthy because it drives us toward doing all sorts of things that are unnatural to how God designed us or what he thinks about us. Insecurity limits our self-authenticity because we are constantly living according to what we think other people think of us.
What’s the remedy? Identify where your insecurity surfaced in your life. What was the identifiable triggers of it? Repent and ask God to help you become a more secure person. Renew your ideas about your identity in the Scriptures. Celebrate and become comfortable in your own skin, including your gifts and unique qualities. Affirm others but don’t compare yourself to them. Welcome compliments and affirm the people around you.
Insecurity is a fruit of our fallen nature but in Christ we can grow to learn a new pattern of thinking about ourselves and others that’s both helpful and God-glorifying (2 Cor 5:17).
The word SHIFT means to change from one position to another or to move from where you are to where you need to be. Life and leadership requires shifts of all kinds at various moments in our journey if we are going to continue to grow and influence others toward a preferable future. One of the shifts I have personally had to embrace that I want to pass onto you is:
A PRESSURE shift from the comfortable to the chaotic
When I wasn’t leading people in the context of local church ministry, my life was less chaotic and more comfortable and yet when I answered the call of God to lead and preach, the pressure increased radically. It’s in response to the possibility of stress that people often back away from the call of God but keep in mind the only place where there is no stress in life is the cemetery. Life, let alone ministry is full of chaotic activity, especially, when you are seeking to live in the centre of God’s purpose for you.
The first thing that signals a transition into growing pains is an increase of pressure applied to your life. Life Pressure is the amount of force applied to such things as your schedule, relationships, work and finances. When going through a pressure shift, you will feel overwhelmed by what is being expected of you and as a result you will have a tendency to go to emotional extremes. When you feel like your spiritual insides are going to explode you will generally respond in 1 of 2 ways:
- Push harder, or
- Sideline yourself
Either option isn’t going to help you grow. I encourage you to go contrary to what you think should do and work a little less but spend more time with God to receive the spiritual energy you need to sustain the output required of you in your current capacity. Leadership, be it in the family or work context demands an increasing of capacity to keep growing.
Every now and then I get totally frustrated with the lack of certain results and outcomes in my life. I tend to be a little OCD about getting things done and in a particular way. I have learnt that while my first fleshly instinct would be to blame someone and look for the fault on their behalf, I have to be honest and acknowledge that most of the time the central issue is me and my personal lack of organization.
I am a particularly organized person (If I don’t say so myself… haha) but I generally attempt to do too much and squeeze that little extra into my already overcrowded schedule. In the past when I would struggle with punctuality, it wasn’t because I was lazy, it was because I was attempting to complete, ‘just one more thing’ in my schedule that I simply didn’t have time for (can anyone else identify?).
I have learnt that if I really want to grow in a particular area of my life, I must get more organized (I know in Australian English ‘organize’ is spelt with an ‘S’ but I like the way the Americans spell it). Personal organization and self-leadership is a fundamental backbone of personal growth and development. You can’t go higher in God, work or life if you don’t commit yourself to getting more organized.
Here are some basic tips I have learnt to getting more organized:
- Know what God has called you to do – Being clear on your life calling and purpose helps to eliminate wasted time and energy. Knowing what God has called you to do helps you to know what to say yes too and what to say no too. While we are always growing in our understanding of God’s call on our lives, we need to establish some clarity and work towards fulfilling it. The earlier, the better… but it’s never too late.
- Structure your schedule around your physical and emotional energy peaks throughout the day – While this is not always practical or even totally realistic, if you have the flexibility to make this happen in your schedule, observe for a week your energy peaks and lows and schedule your most important assignments, meetings or tasks in the appropriate time of day.
- Buy an iPad 2 – I have found this little instrument an absolute master-piece of tech-engineering that helps me to no end with my personal organization. Not only do I have a daily, weekly, monthly and annual outlook on my calendar but I have access to various apps (Awesome Notes)that make taking notes, referencing work related materials and recording important things much easier. All that I need is in one place, it’s mobile, super-fast and can be accessed at the click of a button. Definitely worth the investment.
- Have a weekly planning meeting once a week – I meet with my wife every Monday night and quickly go over our plans for the week. It helps keep each other in the loop on what’s coming up and also helps us our communication flow during the week. We also look ahead in the month and plan future activities including holidays and family events that need to be included in the schedule.
- Look over your schedule the night before – Don’t wake up and wonder ‘Oh what do I have on today?’ Know what you have on because your brain has already made a mental note, the night before. Know what’s going on and don’t be wondering what just happened.
- Have a specific place for everything – The simple way to avoid leaving things around the place is have a place for everything. Be it clothes, shoes, bills, administration tools, books, food, sports equipment, CD’s, DVD’s, etc… Know where things belong and where to put things after you have finished using them. I don’t lose my keys at least when I am at home because I always put my keys, phone and wallet on the front bench as I walk into the house (If they do go missing, I know that some cheeky little monkeys are up to something…).
- Chunk – Carve out blocks of time to concentrate on specific and important tasks. Don’t do a task in dribs and drabs. Make time and focus your energy, resources and abilities on completing the task.
- Focus, Focus, Focus – They key to great performance in something is complete focus and concentration. This comes naturally to me, like a sixth sense, which sometimes irritates my wife to no end but is able to be developed by anyone who is desperate enough. Golf is a great game to teach you focus, because if you don’t focus, you won’t be playing golf for much longer… it’s too frustrating.
- Plan, Plan and then Plan some more – The key to great organization is planning. I plan my preaching 12-18 months ahead. I plan holidays 12 months ahead. I’m getting better at planning my financial budget than I used to.
- Develop an action orientation – Make things happen by getting actively involved in the process of life. Don’t be passive and watch life pass you by, get involved. The world waits for no-one. If you want something, you’ve got to go and get it.
- Get fit – Great fitness enables you to do more, be more and live more. When your physical body breaks down, everything in your life just stops because you need time to recover. The fitter and healthier you are the more alert, energized and organized you will be.
- Develop systems for doing routine tasks – For example, I don’t get to watch the news every night to keep abreast of what’s happening in the world but every morning after my devotions, I’ll use my iPad 2 (Gotta get one) and access a top News website to get a big picture scan of the key news items for that day. My job requires me to be informed of what is going on in the world around me and this little 5 min exercise helps keep be informed and engaged.
- Prioritize your BIG Rocks – Date night with my wife is a big rock that I have in my diary weekly. My devotions and preaching study time is a big rock that goes into my diary. Meetings with key people need to be prioritized in your diary. There will always be more work, more people and more opportunities to fill in the details of life but you are responsible for what’s most important.
Hope this helps.