fearless

It is officially 35 sleeps till Christmas.   Or as my husband texted me on Wednesday, 5 Mondays.

Yikes.

That seems way too close.

 

One of the things I love about Christmas apart from the fact that we are celebrating the wonder and glory that Jesus, the King of the Universe, the Lord of Lords, Creator God stepped out of glory and into humanity, taking on the form of a tiny baby born in obscurity, born to live a perfect life, born to die a horrendous death, born to make a way for us to be saved and rescued, is the family traditions.

Every Christmas Eve after we get home from the Christmas Eve service our family open one present.  And it is …. New PJS!  Which means we have cute photos the next day!

 

PJ 4.jpg

Every family has its traditions but a big one is the Christmas meal.   Some do the lunch, some do the dinner, some do the mid afternoon whatever you would call it.   And isn’t there something special about Christmas food.  Even if you eat it at other times in the year, it feels more wonderful and delicious because its Christmas.

When I married Tony I didn’t realise that I married a Christmas foodie family.  My family were always yummy but pretty standard.  We embraced the kiwi summer effect and usually had a roast chicken and veges for lunch, followed by pav and strawberries, every year and then left overs and bbq for dinner.   Tony’s sister however goes all out.  It’s the turkey and the ham, the exotic salads and roast veges and 4 types of stuffing and the sauces and the graveys.   It takes all day and everyone does something.    Now I confess I feel very out of my depth in the kitchen on Christmas Day when we all get together.    So I’m allocated to bring strawberries, dairy free icecream, and pigs in blankets.  For those that don’t know pigs in blankets are mini sausages wrapped in bacon.  That’s my job every Christmas.    And on the day we all bring to the table our creations, fancy or simple, and we eat until we feel like we’ll sleep for a week and bring on new years resolutions!   Whose with me?

 

Imagine Church like that Christmas Day feast.   Imagine if we all brought our best dish to the table, every week.    Or imagine if we expected one person to do all the cooking while the rest of us kicked back and watched another rerun of snoopys christmas?

We all have something to give, something to contribute and without your dish, something is missing, the feast is incomplete.

Now also, think about this.  Who is the feast for?  The feast is for us, yes.  We come and are fed, nourished.  But the feast is for the lost.  This is God’s number one priority.  That the lost are saved, that the lost come and know how great God is, that He is real and that He has the power they need, not just for eternity but for now.  The world needs the feast we serve, need what we offer.  They need what you offer.

 

But often we can feel like I do on Christmas Day.  Inadequate and that what I bring to the table isn’t flash or fancy or something other than what it is.   Sometimes I feel unsure if what I’m bringing is enough, or will be good enough.   I fight comparison and insecurity, yes over a Christmas dinner!

We’ve been talking about being a family and that we all have a role to play, all have a dish to bring,  but sometimes we can feel like we don’t know what our place is, where we fit and what we can offer.

 

So this morning we’re going to pull it back to the micro, we’re going to look at YOU and ME, as individuals and discovering our passions and purposes.

When we find out who we are, how God has wired us, we can then bring our best dish, every week, with confidence and grace.

 

In John 6:1-15 we read about one boy who brought his dish to the table and it was used in extraordinary ways to feed a multitude of people.  God loves to take ordinary people and do amazing things with them.   “Great moves of God are usually preceded by simple acts of obedience, doing what can seem quite ordinary, saying yes to God in all things.”

We need to get our eyes off ourselves and our sense of limitation and lift them up, as Jesus did, to the generous abundance of God, the God who created the universe, who split the sea, who knocked the walls of Jericho down with a shout, who cured lepers, gave sight to the blind, speech to the mute and life to the dead.   Our God has no limits.

2 Corinthians 4:7 says But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

So then, how do we find out what our signature dish is?   How do we find out what we are bringing to the table?

Firstly, know this.  We are created on purpose and with a purpose.  That purpose comes under one big mission, one big purpose – to know God and make Him known.  We need to live our lives with that filter, no matter what the practical day to day outworkings of that looks like.

Now I’m not saying that needs to look like ministry or being a missionary or the like.  In everything we do we are called to know God and make Him known.

We find our sense of identity and sense of rightness with the world when we live in that that parameter because this is the heartbeat of God.

When I worked at Firth Concrete Company my mission wasn’t to sell concrete and bricks but to know God and make Him known, to make a difference in my sphere of influence for Jesus.

Secondly,

Kim Walker Smith said “In the pursuit of following Him, He brought my destiny to me. I didn’t have to chase my destiny. It came. My eyes fixed on Him, walking to Him and He aligns my steps”

Often we can freak out and think we’ll miss it or HAVE missed it but as we continue to surrender and say yes we can be confident that God will complete the good work He has begun. Fix your eyes on Him and follow Him with everything you are and in that place of surrender you cant help but run into purpose as God orders our days and our steps.

So how do we discover who we are and what our purpose is?

 

 

Passion points to purpose

Isnt it funny how often we think that the call of God is something that will be painful and a great sacrifice for the Lord.   I hate bugs and hot weather and dirt so – boom must be called to India or Africa.

NO!

But we forget that God has created us, on purpose with purpose, with a unique personality and talents.  Passion is points the way to what our purpose can be. We all have our own unique definitions of awesome. Don’t get trapped following someone else’s definition. You’ll never be the best version of you if you’re always being a lesser version of someone else. And let’s get real. Work and serving God is hard; it might as well be enjoyable too.

I often have people tell me that they couldn’t do my job now, but I love love love my teens and all the stuff that comes with it.   I could never work in a day care but I watch Jessica’s eyes light up when she talks about all the cute kids she works with, snot and all.

My experience in the hospital reminded me why I am not a nurse or doctor.  I hate blood and all bodily fluid.  While I was there I overheard two interesting interactions that so illustrates how passion should point to our purpose.   On my second day in I got a new roommate, an 80 year old woman who arrived in the most beautiful pink nightgown and was the model of graciousness and decorum.  Every hair was in place, even though she was hospital having to have a major operation on her leg.  The next morning a hospital aid or care worker came in and offered to help her wash and get fresh.  I overheard the conversation as this person was brusk, blunt and to put it plainly, not very helpful.  You could just hear the disappointment in my roomates heart as it seemed she was a bother and hrmpf cant you do that yourself.   Contrast that to a few days later when another care worker came in and offered to help her wash and get fresh.  She brought powder with her.    She did her hair.  She cared for her top to toe.  And you could feel the confidence and appreciation in the elderly womans voice.   This person had a passion for caring for people and did her job with such excellence and I can tell you it made such a difference for my roommate.

When we’re not passionate about our job or our position we can feel like things are one degree off… or we can feel worse!    We’re swimming against the tide and nothing makes sense because we’re not living in that sweet spot that God as designed for us.

If you’re unsure of how you can get involved here at church, or as a wider sense of purpose and calling, then think about these questions.   Your answers could reveal possibilities and opportunities.

 

What are you passionate about?  What lights a fire in your heart?   If you had 30 seconds in an elevator with someone what would your pitch be?  What did you love to do as a kid?  What are the issues that are close to your heart?  What do you want to change about the world? If you could do anything with your life what would it be?  What are you naturally good at?

These things are not accidental.  They are signposts that God has planted in our life that point the way to our purpose, they point the way to how we can be involved and to what we bring to the table.

 

 

The Journey is the destination

 I believe we are human BEINGS and that knowing our identity is fundamental for us functioning and flourishing.  But part of BEING is DOING and purpose is about discovering the important ways we can use our time, our being.

However sometimes because we cant see the end goal we can often then feel that what we have to give now isn’t good enough or worth enough or that we make a difference.

We can then give up on trying to contribute anything at all.

It’s not about what we want to do when “we grow up” it’s about living life now and bringing something to the table now.   Every part of the feast counts.  God isn’t calling us to be experts He is calling us to be obedient and to step out and use the gifts that we have been given.

 

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.  He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.  Ephesians 4:15-16

As each part does its part.  We all have a part. When we do your part the other parts grow.   Our part makes a massive difference.

But sometimes we need help to start our part, to figure out where to spend our time and energy.

 

I asked tony how he got involved in River Kids.   Tony has been at the River since day one and he said that on the second week he saw that there were lots of kids but not many helpers, so he put his hand up and has never left.  When meet new people here at church and tell them about him I often say he’s been doing River Kids since Noah’s Ark.   He took the opportunity that was there and discovered that this is a passion and is his purpose.     And I have to confess…. On my very first day at the River I noticed this cute guy with blue eyes heading off to do kids ministry and I thought mmmmm…..  so there you go, here’s a freebee – serving God is very attractive!

 

What you are doing now, and how you are doing it now, will affect how you receive what God will give you next. Allow him to strengthen you in this season so that you have everything you need for the next one. –Steven Furtick

God will complete the good work He has begun.  But being part of an instant generation we want it now.  We want to arrive, now.  We want to be there, now.   But it is a journey.

Part of discovering our passions and purpose is to embrace the journey.  Don’t push pause and wait until you have everything figured out.  Don’t wait for that moment to arrive because if you’re not DOING now then you’ll never get to that destination.

I think we all know that, but sometimes we need help to start our part, to figure out where to spend our time and energy.

 

Jon Acuff has a great book called START which outlines 5 stages do discovering and living your best live, punching average in the face.   Now these stages don’t necessary need to be lineal, but they do map out the journey we can go on to discover our passion and purpose.

It begins with

Learning. This is where we all start. It’s a time of experimentation and exploration when we try a lot of different paths and approaches. We rack up experience and start getting a sense of what works and doesn’t work for us.  The great thing about a church is that there are several areas where we can get a start and just get involved.  In the process we can start discovering passions and purposes and clicking into roles and ministries.

In my Christian life I have done greeting, preaching, youth ministry, young adults, graphics, a church magazine, overhead projector, evangelism, street preaching, beach missions, connect groups, womens ministry, have even been in the worship team, been in a church production, and I did kids ministry – twice.  I haven’t done sound or mens ministry but I’ve given almost everything else a nudge.   Through the process I learned what I love and learned what I didn’t love.  I learned what I am good at, and um, what I’m not that great at.  Each of us was made for something, usually something very specific, and it’s okay to walk through a few different experiences to find what it is.

I learned a new word on Thursday – Coddiwomple {English slang word} ~ (v.) to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

The learning stage can feel a bit like we are Coddiwompling through life, but when we attempt things intentionally we can begin clarifying our passions and purpose.

 

The next stage is

Editing. Here’s where we can start dropping the things that drain our energy or don’t fit our aptitude and passions. Jon says that it’s about getting focus and finding the work that allows us to be the best version of us, whatever that happens to be.  By giving various things a go we can unlock things that we didn’t know God had planted within us.

Jordan told me that he is a youth leader because Caleb Hall told him he had to be one.  I’m so glad Caleb did because Jordan is an exceptional youth leader and connect group leader who discovered by doing that this is his sweet spot and this is how God has uniquely wired and gifted him.  Jordan brings something awesome to the table.

 

We then move into

Mastering.   It’s when we master our profession, our calling, the particular brand of awesome that we’re after.  It’s when we’ve had a go, made some edits and have found our groove and that thing that sets our heart on fire.  It’s our speciality dish that we bring to the table.  Again I’m not saying this is full time ministry because there are so many other ways that we can use our gifts and passions in the church and the community.  Do you have a passion for people?  Then every week get along someone and connect.  Do you have a passion for the Word?  Then get involved in a connect group so you can invest and share your passion and knowledge.  Do you love to sing and worship?  Join the worship team.  Do you love to do stuff behind the scenes practically?  We have heaps of ways you can be involved.

 

The last 2 stages Jon Acuff talks about in his book is Harvesting and Guiding. The final step on the journey is to help others on the path.  Several times over the past few weeks this has been mentioned.   Get alongside someone.  Do life with them.

These things are not about the doing.  It’s more than action or being on a roster. It’s about who we are and how we fit.  It’s about you being YOU, discovering who you are and how God has uniquely wired you.  God has created each one of us to DO.   See I believe we are created to work, to do stuff.  Adam and Eve worked in the garden, right in the beginning.   And it was good.  There is a part of us that needs this and is only fulfilled when we’re serving.  Look if you come here and you just come, we love that.  Come.  We love that you come.  But I guess my heart is I want the MORE for you that comes when we unlock our passions and purposes and get involved.

Ephesians 2:10 says For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

When we identify who we are as an individual, who we are as a child of God, then we can come together as a family and together make a difference.

 

 

Pour Into Your Purpose

In 2 Kings 4 we read about a widow and her sons and their desperate situation.  Her husband had died, they were in debt and she was going to have to sell her sons into slavery.  Along comes Elisha.

“How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” “Your servant has nothing at all,” she said, “except for a little olive oil” 2 Kings 4:2

Nothing at all the woman replied, except for a little olive oil.

The rest of the story goes on to tell how the woman and her sons collected jars from her neighbours and friends. She filled each one with the “little olive oil” she had in her home. The oil did not run out until they ran out of jars. Then they sold the oil and lived off the money.

When asked however she had said she had nothing, just a little oil.

She overlooked the oil because it was ordinary.  Common.  And just a little.

If you were asked that question, what do you have?  How would you answer?  And Im not talking about household goods, or even ingredients for the Christmas dinner here.  What in your life can you offer?

God loves to take what we think is totally insufficient and turn it into more than enough.

The key in the miracle is that she had to act.  She had to gather the jars and pour the oil.

She had to do something.

It was in the act that the miracle happened.

As you begin to pour out your life the miracle happens.  As you step out and let God step in the miracle happens.

Her miracle sustained her family for the rest of their lives.   What is the ripple effect of you pouring out?  What is the effect and influence it will have, not only for yourself but for our church, our community and our world?

 

 

The cost of doing nothing is high

God will use your specific talents and passions to fuel His mission.

We can have a vision for my life, but God has a vision for the world that we get to step into when He calls us.

I read this quote by Bobbie Houston that stirred my heart…. Imagine God pondering this from highest heaven: “Who is going to understand? Who is going to roll up their sleeves, count the cost, pay the price? Who is going to influence and rescue the daughters that I know are struggling right now? Who is going to pay attention to those weeping behind closed doors or in closed nations? Who is going to step into the aftermath of past and present killing fields? Who is going to rescue these precious ones who are right now looking into this night sky and wondering if I exist, if I care? Who is going to pray? Who is going to care?”

The cost of not bringing our dish to the table is high.   The cost of doing nothing is massive.  Not only to yourself but to the world around you that you are called to influence and change.

 

 

When Moses built the tabernacle he was given a set of blueprints from God with very specific instructions.   God gave very specific instructions for the holy place He was to dwell and where people would worship Him.   Every detail was covered, from dimensions to a list of building supplies.  Now of course there was no Bunnings in the desert and God was completely aware of that.  Moses did a shout out of requirements and the people supplied every ingredient required by God for His Tabernacle.  Now before you dismiss this a simple exercise check out the specifics God requested….

Exodus 35:23 says ” Every man, who had in his possession blue and purple and scarlet material and fine linen and goats’ hair and rams’ skins dyed red and porpoise skins, brought them.”

Yes dolphin skins.  Or some versions have Manatee skins.  Interesting.

Everything God listed was provided by the people of Israel.  Everything He required for building His house was within the peoples possession.

Can you see the connection?  Everything God requires for building His house, now on earth, everything God requires for His house to function and for His house to be all that it is called to be, is within us the people.   You might have in the possession of your life manatee skins.  You might have in the talents and skills you have developed gold and silver.  You might provide the fabric needed.

Without that ingredient the house would have been incomplete.  And I use that ingredient to link back to my initial illustration that every week we are bringing our speciality dish and that without our contribution the feast is incomplete.   Don’t dismiss your manatee skin.  Don’t dismiss your life.

 

Let’s wrap it up with this challenge:

 

“Imagine at the end of your life you are standing before your Creator, and He asks: Did you use the time I gifted you each day to be a purposeful being? Did you follow your own path and make your time count? How faithfully did you tend to the dream I sowed in your soul?” – Brendon Burchard

 

 

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