Put off the Old and Put on the New!

Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”

A new year brings with it new hopes and resolutions. The truth is by Feb 1 most people’s new year resolutions are discarded for the onslaught of everyday demands. Don’t let this be you. The bible exhorts us to put off the old self and put on the new self, patterned after Christ. If you are going to embrace the new you in 2015, you need to pay attention to your thoughts. Where the mind goes, the body follows. What is your mind predominately preoccupied with? Faith, hope and love or doubt, fear and hate. The bible exhorts us to focus our minds on the things that are above and not on the things that are below. Millions of people are unhappy and unfulfilled because they only ever look horizontally around them at the things this world is preoccupied with but God is inviting us to get a vertical perspective on life by looking heavenward and seeing life from Gods perspective. Don’t struggle in your strength to put off the old self but ask for Gods help to empower you to be the new you in 2015!

The 2nd Mile!

ClinicalTrialsInProgressRoadIf someone forces you to go one mile, go with them two. (Matthew 5:41)

Too easily we look at the problems in the world and throw our arms in the air, exclaiming, ‘What difference can I make?’ Its the 2nd mile that makes the biggest difference. Whats the 2nd mile? In Jesus day the Romans legislated a practice they borrowed off the Persians to subjugate the people they had conquered. If a Roman soldier saw a Jewish person, he could command them to carry their burden for up to a mile. Most Jews wouldn’t carry a Romans burden 1 inch further than the law required. Jesus said, ‘Go the 2nd mile’. Do more than what is expected of you. Give people more than they expect to receive and God will bless you with more than you expect to receive. The 1st mile is the legalism mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the love mile. The 1st mile is duty mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the devotion mile. The 1st mile is the service mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the intimacy mile. The 1st mile is the convenience mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the sacrifice mile. The 1st mile is the performance mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the worship mile. The 1st mile is the mundane mile, whereas, the 2nd mile is the miraculous mile. Jesus went the 2nd mile on the cross and called us to go the 2nd mile for others.

The Compass of Life!

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I look at my life through the metaphor of a compass.

In the centre of the compass is God. My relationship with him is the epi-centre of my life. God impacts my identity, character, ministry, finances, relationships, activities and everything in between. God is on the throne of my heart because out of my heart flow the springs of life.

True North on my compass is my Family. My family is always in my focus. Everything I am and do impacts on my family and I want to protect the integrity of my relationships with my closest loved ones. If it doesn’t work first at home, it simply doesn’t work.

East is my Health and Fitness. Apart from time, my health and well being is the most precious commodity I have. If my health goes, everything goes with it. Nutrition, Sleep and Training make up the core ingredients of this pillar.

South is my Ministry. From preaching to writing to studying a masters degree and mentoring others, my working life is super busy but I love the opportunity to be used by God to change someone’s life through my gifts.

East is Finance. This has come into greater focus for me the older I get. What you do with your money can make or break you in more ways than one. I think God cares more about this than many of us care to acknowledge. From savings to giving to investments to expenses, this is a must in my compass.

Does the compass metaphor work for you and if it does what would you include as your north, south, east and west?

Live in the Bullseye!

Don’t live on the periphery of what God has put you on the planet for. Live in the Bullseye. Too many of us settle for far too less than what God intended for us.

Imagine a blank A4 piece of paper folded a dozen or more times into a very small square and placed in your pocket. You carry it around with you day after day, year after year until finally you die. Imagine standing before Jesus and he has in his hand that little screwed up and folded up piece of A4 paper in his hand. Jesus then proceeds to unwrap the tiny A4 square piece of paper until it’s completely unfolded to a full piece of paper.

He looks at you in love and says to you, ‘You settled for this little square corner of life, when I called you to stretch, grow and live and contribute far more than you could have imagined.’ How do you think you might feel in that moment. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking, ‘Oh Crap’.

The pain of regret is the worst pain of all. It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late to pursue that dream. It’s never too late to say sorry or forgive or believe again. But you’ve got to make a decision to stop living on the periphery and start living in the bullseye of what God has really called you to.

The Oracle!

Is there any hope for Lance Armstrong?

933378-lance-armstrongI, along with millions of others have followed Lance Armstrong’s career quite closely through his books, video footage and media reports. I have always admired his focus, ‘fightin’ spirit, dogged determination and commitment to hard work. His contribution both on and off the road has been remarkable. His brand has become iconic. His results, unbelievable. In short I was and still am a huge fan.

I have also been watching closely the events of recent months and days, particularly his candid interview with Oprah. As I watched, I sat there devastated for him, his family, his brand and his cause. I don’t personally feel let down as much as I feel for what he and many people close to him are going through right now. Like his cancer diagnosis, I guess it could feel like you are passing through the valley of the shadow of death.

We live in a world that is very harsh and schizophrenic. One minute they worship you like a ‘god’ and the next minute they want to stone you to death. As quickly as the world embraces a winner, they even more quickly outcast a ‘liar’ found out. Yet, in the midst of the chaos that surrounds Lance, his family and his career, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Firstly, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone” (Jn 8:7). If you’re reading this and feel justified in your anger towards Lance, your missing a fundamental point. While you are pointing your finger of judgement at Lance, you’ve got several fingers pointing right back at you.

Romans 3:23-24 says, “For, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Everyone of us is broken and every one of us needs to repent of something. Apart from Jesus, the brokenness of the human condition is without hope. But because of Jesus and the cross, Lance Armstrong and everyone else on the planet can live with hope in the love and grace that is available to us through a relationship with God.

The difference between Lance and you is that you don’t have your selfishness, brokenness and lies broadcast over every single network across the world in one of the greatest media frenzies the modern world has ever seen. Truth is, one day we will all see what dark sins have been boxed up and hidden away in our own lives. Jesus said in Matthew 10:26 ‘For nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known’. There’s coming a day for all of us where if we don’t repent, what’s been done in secret will be shouted from the rooftops. Be sure your sins will find you out.

Be gracious with your comments of fallen heroes because each one of us needs to swallow a dose of humility when we consider our own shortcomings.

From God’s perspective, the most important issue in Lance’s life isn’t the money, winning, brand management or helping people through ‘Livestrong’ (as great as this is) but the condition of his own soul. God loves Lance and from the very beginning has been trying to get his attention regarding his relationship with him. His ex-wife Kristen, a supposedly devout believer has been one of the greatest blessings God has given to Lance and continues to seemingly provide great emotional and spiritual support.

20130117-onc-lance-armstrong-14-318x408Towards the end of the interview, Lance commented that his ex-wife Kristen would say, ‘The truth shall set you free’ quoting a part of Jesus Christ’s famous words from John 8:32. When asked by Oprah at the end of the interview, ‘What is the moral of this story?’ Lance responded with an answer that is still in the process of forming but Oprah responded with her own ‘moral of the story’, ‘The truth shall set you free’.

To be honest I don’t think Oprah really understood the weight of even what she was saying. It isn’t just about being honest with Lance’s past actions of cheating that is the great moral of the story. The moral of the story is that only knowing the truth found in the person of Jesus Christ can truly set Lance and every one of us free from the brokenness of our own lives that drive us to behave and act in ways that are destructive to ourselves and others. 

No matter how talented you are, what dreams you have or how successful you are in your career, nothing will bring freedom or fulfilment like believing in Jesus and walking with him on a daily basis. Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No man shall come to the Father except through me.’ Eternal life and present purpose are connected and intersect most poignantly in a personal and living faith in Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus, no true freedom can be found!

Is there hope for Lance Armstrong? You better believe there is. In fact, could it be that he is about to enter into the greatest and most significant chapter of his life, far greater than 7 Tour De France Victories. Why? Because with Jesus Christ there is always hope!

The Oracle!

Don’t esteem the past more than what God does!

past__present__future_by_xnotperfectbutrealx-d3exrqhIsaiah 43:18-19 ‘Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it.’

Too many of us give too much power to our past and not enough power to our present. Past failures and past successes don’t have to dictate your present reality. If you give too much weight to what God did or didn’t do in the past, you’ll miss what he wants to do in the present.

There’s a reason why your rear view mirror is smaller than your front windscreen. Where you are heading is more important than where you’ve been. If you linger too long on where you’ve been, you’ll crash and miss the turn off to the direction God wants you to head in.

An interesting fact to consider is that when you look up into the sky at night at all of the beautiful stars, you are actually looking at the past. You see, most of the stars in the sky have already died and you are simply looking at the afterglow of them. Too often we look at the past with stars in our eyes and miss what God is wanting to do in our lives right now.

As you head into 2013, I want to encourage you to learn from the past, get healing from the past and celebrate the past but honour what God is doing right now in your life.

The Oracle!

Refuse to Lie Down!

One of the principle weapons Satan uses to disable God’s people is discouragement. Every person I’ve ever met and conversed with about their personal life journey have got reasons to feel discouraged enough to want to quit. Sadly, some people do quit and give up. Thankfully, others refuse to lie down and inspire us by their example.

We live in a fallen world that is characterised by selfishness, doubt, pessimism, discouragement and darkness. The kingdom of God is counter-cultural and is marked by generosity, faith, optimism, hope, encouragement and light. If your life is going to reflect the kingdom of God more than the kingdom of this world, you will have to be intentional about it because your flesh will naturally default to the spirit of this age.

I wrestle with discouragement a lot. It can come over me like a dark cloud and blanket me in such a way that it feels oppressive. The only way I break through it, is not by positive self-talk but by pressing into the sanctuary of God’s presence. In his presence I’m reminded that nothing is too hard for him. In his presence, my joy returns and I find the strength to keep believing, keep moving forward and keep positioning myself for greater things to come. God’s presence is a tower of strength and when we distance ourselves from him, we become a target for the devil to take us out with discouragement.

Too many of us accept the lies of the enemy too readily. Too many of us allow Satan to steamroll us with a barrage of condemnation and accusation, as if we were utterly powerless. But the truth is, we are powerful in God and his purpose for us (Ephesians 1).

I encourage you to draw a line in the sand and make a decision to stop entertaining the discouraging string of ideas Satan sends your way. Stop the broken record of wrong thinking and renew your mind with God-Truth. Life is fleeting and days pass by so quickly. Don’t give your best thoughts and years to the enemy of your soul. Your better than that and Gods calling on your life is too precious to let go of just because you’re in a season of discouragement. Refuse to lie down.

The Oracle!