Follow the Light!

John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

All of us search for answers to life’s big questions. Many of us look for these answers in all the wrong places. Some of us stumble and bumble our way through life, feeling like we are lost, confused and in the dark. Jesus said, “whoever follows me will not walk in darkness”. One of the reason’s why many of us are wandering around in the darkness is because we aren’t willing to follow Jesus as Lord. We want to be Lord over our own lives and masters of our own destinies but as long as this is true, darkness will mark our journey. Jesus is the light of the world. He was the only person to have ever claimed to be the Son of God. Either he was completely crazy or totally authentic. Billions of people over the last 2,000 years have discovered Jesus to be who he said he was, “the light of the world”. I’ve discovered for myself that when life gets dark, it’s usually because I’ve started following myself and not Jesus. When I get my eyes back on Jesus, light illuminates my path and God’s peace fills my heart. Follow Jesus and you will not walk in darkness. Explosive Insights!

Catch the Little Foxes!

Song of Solomon 2:15 Catch the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vineyard. I ran from Sydney to Melbourne and raised $160k for my local church in 2008. It was a monumental challenge and was not helped by my little toe on my left foot turning black and getting pancaked for 1,172km. It didn’t matter how fit I was, the tiniest thing became my biggest issue. The same principle applies in life. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference and if you don’t pay attention to them, they will take you out. The challenge is many of us think we can take shortcuts with the little things and get away with it, however, you ignore them at your own peril. What are the little foxes in your world stealing the fruitfulness from your vineyard of life, work and health? Identify them and catch them before they spoil your vineyard. 

Your Steps Are Ordered!

“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord orders his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

God is a lifesaver! We live in a day and age where we are encouraged to follow our heart, as if, each of us intuitively know what we should do by consulting our own hearts. This is not helpful advice because Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, who can understand it?” The answer is no one but God can actually help us understand our own hearts. We are complex and simple at the same time. For this reason, I take courage from the fact that even though, my misunderstood heart, may plan my way, the creator of the universe orders my steps. There have been several times when my heart wanted to head in a certain direction but God has patiently aligned my steps with his purpose and plan for my life. Truth is, I’ve bucked against his alignment at times but in hindsight, I’ve always been grateful for where God has positioned my feet.

First Hand Revelation!

machine city“That which we have seen and heard we proclaim.” (1 John 1:3)

John the Apostle speaks and tells us that he doesn’t borrow someone else’s testimony to inform his proclamation but he preaches from a first-hand eyewitness account of encounter with God. John, along with the other disciples were ministering out of their personal experience of Jesus and we should do so as well. I can’t be effective in someone else’s revelation but I can be authentic and effective if I am speaking out of something that I have personally encountered along the journey of my relationship with Jesus. Power is imparted to people when it flows from a first hand revelation, not second or third hand. Hearing other’s stories is inspirational and helpful but living an adventure and telling others your story is powerful. First hand revelation requires us to grow in awareness of what God’s saying to us and what we are learning along the way. We are called to be a witness of what God has worked into our lives so that others may come into their own personal encounter with God!

Ministry Begins at Home!

DSCF0345_2‘He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church.’ (1 Timothy 3:4-5)

Family is a gift from God and yet it is the most often neglected and abused entrustment in our lives. I think God takes how we treat our families far more seriously than we even appreciate. We are often focusing on ambitions external to our family relationships and justify the pursuit of them at the expense of treating our loved ones with true sacrificial love and respect.

God’s wisdom for public ministry begins with private victory. This means you’re only as good in public as your family life is in private. It lacks integrity when you treat other people better than you treat your own spouse and kids. Could it be that God withholds blessing in the public arena because of the immaturity we react with in our private lives?

1 Peter 3:7 says, ‘Husbands live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honour to the woman… so that your prayers may not be hindered.’ 

God is looking at how we treat those whom he has entrusted us with. We will never rise any higher than our faithfulness in the matters of our household. My ministry begins at home. If it doesn’t work at home then why would I hop onto a platform and tell anyone else to pursue something I’m not totally pursuing myself?

I want to leave a legacy to my children’s children that is of the highest order. I want them to see the consistency of my faith, my love, my hope and integrity and ultimately grow up in the healthiest, God-centered environment that I can provide. I reckon if we gave as much energy to the cultivating of our family unit that we often give to lesser things, the world would most definitely be a better place.

Join me in building strong families and watch what God does in every other arena of your life. The scriptures challenge us, ‘He who neglects his family is worse than an unbeliever.’ Don’t neglect your primary ministry, your household!

The Oracle!

Hear-Interpret-Obey!

John 2:5 ‘His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”‘

I love this verse in the bible. It is so simple and yet is so profound, and it has far reaching consequences. I’ve long held to the spiritual principle of hear and obey. It has been part of the core fabric of my spirit and walk with God, however, while I still believe and practice it, I would like to add another word into the middle of this fundamental idea.

The word is ‘Interpret’. Hearing is crucial. Obeying is vital. Interpretation is absolutely critical. A heart to interpret what God or anyone else is saying is a sign of maturity and wisdom. You might be able to hear but if you don’t interpret accurately, you could misapply your obedience.

It’s true, we do know in part and prophesy in part (1 Cor 13), however, that doesn’t mean we fail to invest time and energy into rightly handling the word of truth we have received. In my early years of ministry, I would hear the word, have a desire to obey but not always seek out the clear interpretation. I see the same thing happening with different ministries in the body of Christ today.

Truth is, it can be hard to know how to interpret what God reveals to us. Gods thoughts and ways aren’t ours and as a result interpretation can be a struggle. I’ve learnt that godly counsel, extended prayer, studying the scriptures and some helpful dream interpretation tools have been useful in processing a download from heaven. One such book is titled, ‘Dreams – The divinity code’.

I encourage you to pay the price to hear God’s voice, exercise wisdom to interpret what God has spoken and have the courage to obey boldly what God has revealed to you. Remember, not everything God reveals is to be actioned but more often than not it is.

Hear-Interpret-Obey!

Contending for the fulness of Gods anointing

One of the things that plagues the Western Church is complacency. There is not a passionate contending for the fulness of God’s anointing in our lives and ministries that I think is available and needed.

Jesus said, ‘He who believes in me, the works that I do he will do also, and greater works than these he will do.’ (Jn 14:12)  The church is supposed to walk as Jesus walked. We are the body of Christ. We must not settle for anything less than what Jesus has promised us as his people. Too many of us dismiss Jesus’ words as hyperbole or already fulfilled in the book of Acts but I think we are mistaken.

We have a tendency to excuse our lack of power by filling up time with more religious activities, trends and techniques that are ok on the surface but distract us from our higher calling. Unfortunately, the words of Paul to Timothy are coming true of our generation, we are ‘lovers of pleasure, rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness but denying its power.’ (2 Tim 3:4-5)

Jude 3 exhorts us to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. We have limited contending to sound doctrine and holy living. These two are foundational and vitally important but if we don’t demonstrate the power of the doctrine we profess or outwork our righteousness, than we aren’t fully contending. We need the power of God to deliver spiritually impoverished people.

I think it’s integral that we contend for all 3 elements of true faith: Biblical ideas; Biblical lifestyles; Biblical experience. Contending for the fulness of God’s anointing looks like:

  1. Ask God for a vision of what more looks like
  2. Don’t despise the day of small things
  3. A lifestyle of prayer and fasting
  4. Hear God clearly and obey God boldly
  5. Be prepared for the attack that accompanies the anointing

Grace!

Who Speaks Into Your Life?

Proverbs 18:1 ‘Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment’ 

Proverbs 22:17 ‘Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise.’

Over the last month I have spent more time on the phone and in person chatting with key people in my world than I have for a long time. Why? Cause I need to hear the wisdom of others and so do you. I have always created space in my world for people I respect and admire to speak into my life but I think it’s specially important when navigating an important season in your life. I started my ministry running my own show and realised I needed to broaden the voices speaking into my life. Thank God for sending me godly men to speak into my world.

Studying the Scriptures and praying daily is hugely helpful and strongly recommended but is one key part of a holistic process of growing as a person. Without a community of people around us speaking into our lives, we can develop our theological ideas about life in a way that isn’t helpful to ourselves or even balanced. A disciple is a learner, a student who submits and commits to assume a posture of listening and learning. This includes from key coaches, mentors and peers around us.

I would suggest having a compass of relationships in your world that includes mentors (north); peers (east); protegé (south) and friends (west) that you have scheduled catch ups with regularly.

We live in a culture that promotes the independent autonomy of the individual. This is embraced at the individuals personal expense. Nothing can be gained in living by your own judgment alone. What you don’t know can actually hurt you. I prefer to learn from the mistakes and successes of others than learn the hard way through my own selfish isolation. Listen, if it’s good enough for Bill Gates to have someone speaking into his life, it’s good enough for you.

Can you actually name the person(s) who speak into your life regularly? Are they respected by others? Does their counsel ring true more often than not? Do you walk away from the conversation feeling better off for spending time with them? Do you enjoy their company or do you endure your time with them? Where can they best contribute to your personal growth and development? What have you learnt from them so far in your relationship?

These are all important questions to consider. It’s scary to think that some of us have no one speaking into our personal worlds at all. I encourage you to position yourself and make yourself available to spend time with that significant other person who will sharpen you up. We all need someone to speak into our lives!

The Curse of Youthfulness!

I planted Activate Church in April 2006 with a core group of young, passionate and visionary young people. We had energy and drive but very little material resources. We had passion and vision but only a little wisdom. We had faith and were willing to sacrifice but we lacked the seasoned perspective of more experienced campaigners around us.

We grew quite quickly, by God’s grace but we also expended a ton of energy. Sometimes, we discussed things and wrestled with issues that really were more of a distraction, than it was a help. Since then, I’ve become very focused on making sure that my energy and the energy of the team around me is directed to what’s most important. It’s the leader’s job to work out what’s most important, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Growing up a pastors kid and spending several years on staff at a number of churches, I thought I had the goods to get the job done but little did I know there is a big difference between being a member of a team and being the point leader of the team. There is a drafting effect when you are working in the slipstream of a point leader that does make it easier, but the moment you take the lead position, the weight and wind resistance increases exponentially. There was a definite weight-shift that took place when I took the lead pastor role and it only compounds the further you go and grow.

Youthful enthusiasm brings energy and momentum to any organization, especially a church. At Activate we have a 6pm service Sunday nights that has more than doubled in the last 12 months and with it has come new Christians hungry for the word and passionate in their worship of Jesus. I value youthful enthusiasm but I have come to appreciate the wise sages around me who have given very helpful advice at much-needed times.

I’ve come to learn that wisdom trumps enthusiasm. Passion, energy, drive and enthusiasm needs the focus of wisdom to direct it to the right target. Not only do we need to bring wise and experienced campaigners around us but we also need to grow in wisdom ourselves. Wisdom comes from 3 primary sources:

  1. Fear of God (Proverbs 1:7) – Until you fear God and weigh most heavily in your life, you will remain an undisciplined fool.
  2. Wise Counsel (Proverbs 15:22) – Point leaders need the right information from the right people at the right time. Your job is to build a team of the right people around you, who can not only do their jobs but give you the counsel you need, when you need it.
  3. Applied Experience – It isn’t enough to just have an experience, you need to apply it to your life by reflecting and possibly journaling on what you have learnt from the pain or success of the experience. Some people live the same experience 50 years in a row and never learn from it. Don’t be that person. Learn, don’t make the same mistake twice and grow.

The curse of youthfulness is impetuosity and to be honest I had buckets full of it. On the one hand, I had an action orientation that lends itself towards quick results but sometimes, only temporary results. Our generation wants everything done yesterday. In fact I don’t know any leader who doesn’t want things moving more quickly. However, wisdom gives you the needed discernment and perspective to help make the best use of the opportunity that’s presented before you.

Impetuosity moves quickly but spends energy unnecessarily. Leader, you aren’t just called to make any old thing happen, you’re called to make a specific thing happen and to steward what God has entrusted to you. This requires both capacity and wisdom.

We must obey the biblical exhortation to proclaim to the coming generation the glory of God (Psalm 78) but we must also exercise wisdom in how we lead ourselves and the young people around us into God’s purposes for the future well-being of the church.

Grace!

Assurance, Not Guidance!

I’ve discovered that guidance from God is not always what we need. More often than not we know what God’s will is but what we need to complete it is assurance from God that he will be with us.

This is no more true than for Gideon after God called him to strike down the Midianites. The Lord said to Gideon, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor… Go in your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” Gideon said, “How shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manessah, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the Lord said to him, “Surely, I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”

Gideon has an initial conversation with God and then goes on a journey of giving God his final response. On a personal level Gideon feels much like us when asked by God to complete his will, he feels inadequate, insecure and lacking in confidence. When God issues a call to us, it raises our insecurities to the surface but this is a necessary part of our training to complete God’s will for us.

The very thing we think disqualifies us to answer God’s call (our weakness) is the very reason why we have been chosen, so we don’t confuse God’s glory with our ability.

Gideon knew the will of God but he puts out a fleece, not to get guidance but to get reassurance from God that he was in fact called to do what God had asked him to do. Why would someone who knows the will of God need a fleece to double-check? The fleece had nothing to do with finding God’s will and everything to do with his own poor self-image. Gideon wasn’t seeking guidance, he was asking for reassurance.

When it comes to our own calling, what we need most, is not more direction but reassurance that we are the one’s to fulfill it. Reassurance is a key part of Gods intention for us. When he commits us to impossible situations He knows that it will throw us into a crisis of self-confidence. It is in these moments that God will answer our insecurities with confirmation that he is with us and that he has called us to head in a certain direction.

Insight!