God Is More Than Able!

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!

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!

One Season Ends, Another One Begins!

cropped-dsc_4184.jpgMy family and I are on the precipice of a whole new season of ministry. This Sunday we have our farewell service as we celebrate seven fruitful years of ministry as the founders and pastors of Activate Church.

Lots of memories, emotions and thoughts fill our minds and hearts as we have navigated the decision to answer God’s call to step into a full-time itinerant preaching and prophetic ministry. Stepping out in faith into this new venture has meant that we have had to let go of the privilege of leading Activate Church into the future.

It was in May 2012 that God spoke, definitely, into my spirit at Lilydale Lake, that 2012 was to be my last year as the senior pastor of Activate Church. Since that time God has confirmed over and over again in numerous ways his hearts intention for us and our future. We have wrestled, cried, shared and prayed our way through this process but have seen God’s hand of provision, peace and power make a way both for us and the church.

We are excited to be commissioning Ps Ben and Sarah Fagerland as the new senior pastor of Activate Church in just over a weeks time. This will be a great time of passing the baton to my spiritual son, whom has served God, me and the church so faithfully over these last 4 years.

But for the next 24hrs it’s about honouring what God has done in the past and recognising the labor of love my wife and I have embraced in establishing Activate Church. Activate Church will always be a community of faith we speak into, pray for and cheer on as it moves forward and grows into its future destiny, under new leadership.

As for us, we are embracing a new assignment of preaching, writing, mentoring and ministering prophetically across Australia and overseas. Following Jesus is never static, it’s always dynamic. To go up into the call of God, you must first give up that which God has released you from. It’s not easy but it’s necessary. Please partner with us in prayer for our future ministry and Activate Church as we all transition into a new season of life.

Philippians 3:13-14 ‘But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press on toward the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.’

The Oracle!

The Sermon Must Suffer!

Martin Luther once said, ‘Prayer, meditation and temptation make a preacher.’ We have little difficulty with prayer and meditation but the ‘temptation’ part we’d rather escape.

One reason why God allows preachers to suffer is that they might have the opportunity to grow spiritually and therefore to preach better. Even Jesus had to go through suffering to prepare him for his heavenly ministry (Heb 2:14-18), so why should we escape?

For a sermon to be good, the sermoniser must suffer. I wish there was some other way but apparently there isn’t. Trust me, I’ve been looking and I haven’t found one yet.

James 1:2-4 ‘Count it all joy brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.’

Jame’s wisdom is paradoxical and yet profound. I’ve been a first hand witness to this promise of this verse being played out in my own life and ministry and I’m expectant of the fruit to come as a result of the testing of my faith in God.

The true preacher is known as one whom deals out to the people his life passed through the fire of thought. Phillips Brookes once said, ‘Truth through personality is our description of real preaching.’ If the truth of the word bypasses the personality of the preacher, then the sermon may become a lecture, and the preacher may become a hypocrite. If the text isn’t real to you, then you will find it hard to make it real to anyone else.

For the text to become real to you and others it must pass through the fire of a test. Don’t run from your test. Run to it, see it for what it is and embrace the spiritual growth that God wants to squeeze out of it, into you.

The Oracle!

The Gift of Prophecy!

I bumped into the prophetic ministry the first time I preached as a teenager. During and after my message, God showed up and revealed himself powerfully through the prophetic word with dramatic results. For me prophecy is very intuitive and for many years, I just had the ignorance and the boldness to share with people what I saw and heard God saying. Since those early days I have grown in my understanding and maturity in operating in the Spirit of prophecy.

Prophecy is a gift, not an award. The Holy Spirit distributes individually as he wills, not as we earn (1 Cor 12:11). The fruit of the Spirit is evidence of our spiritual maturity. The gifts of the Spirit are evidence of God’s grace lavished upon us.

Prophecy is to be earnestly desired. Paul exhorts us, ‘Earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy’ (1 Cor 14:1). Anyone who is saved and baptised in the Spirit can receive grace to prophesy.

The purpose of prophecy is to encourage the church. ‘The one who prophesies speaks to people for their edification, encouragement and comfort’ (1 Cor 14:3). Edification means to build up. Exhortation means to call near. Comfort means to cheer up. We’ve got to prophesy the answer, not the problem.

Prophecy is both foretelling and forth telling. Foretelling is to know the future  as in Acts 11:28 when Agabus prophesied a famine before it actually happened. Forth telling is to cause the future as in Ezekiel 37 when the prophet prophesied to the dry bones and a creative miracle took place. Prophecy has power within it to create that which has been declared. A word of knowledge is not the same as a prophecy as it is a revelation of supernatural knowledge about the past, or present or an unknown fact.

Prophecy reveals God’s heart and mind. Prophets are known as God’s friends because God shares his secrets with them. Prophets are associates of God, an active extension of Yahweh himself. Too many people look for a word from God, rather than a relationship. Look for a relationship with God and the word will take care of itself.

3 parts to Prophecy = Revelation is the first part. God’s revelation comes through a variety of ways (dream, vision, words, angels, creation, scripture, tongues, impression). Interpretation is the second part and is often the part that the prophesier won’t always get. The last part is the application, so what? What is the person to do with what they have received.

Revelation 19:10 The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.

The Oracle!