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Grand Design 8

7. Serving is good for your health

Studies have shown that volunteering is so good for the mind and body that it can ease symptoms of stress and depression.

There are studies that show that a part of our brain literally lights up when we help others. When we help others our bodies release a hormone called oxytocin, which buffers stress and helps us maintain social trust and tranquility. Along with oxytocin are the other chemicals like dopamine, which is a mood-elevating neurotransmitter. These drugs tend to push aside negative emotions and reduce the stress level.

Over 40 international studies confirm that volunteering can add years to your life. In fact, current studies suggest up to a 22% reduction in mortality rates!

I want to read you this paragraph from one of the articles I read on time, huffpost and various other posts about how serving serves us:

This process begins a shift from a me-orientation to a we-orientation. You start to look at people and situations with an eye for what you can offer them, and not vice versa. You break the tiresome tyranny of questions like “What’s in it for me?” The mindset shifts from consumption to contribution. Paradoxically, when serving in this way, you are no longer operating from a space of scarcity. Your cup fills and overflows.

I want to spontaneously add an 8th to this list.   Serving just gets stuff done.  Black and white.  Stuff has to happen for all this to happen.  Serving gets that stuff done.

We make all sorts of rational explanations for not serving:

I don’t have time.

I don’t know what I would do.

I don’t have any special skills to contribute.

They don’t need me.

But the reality is that God doesn’t call the equipped; He equips the called. God used men and women with similar doubts to change the course of history. Moses didn’t think he was a leader or speaker, but God worked through Moses to bring Israel out of slavery. David was the youngest (and therefore most insignificant) of all his brothers, but God worked through David to defeat a giant and eventually made him a king. Paul used to kill Christians before he met Jesus, but he went on to become one of the most highly-regarded and prolific writers/church planters in history.

 

“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

Grand Design 7

6. Serving opens doors

David was a shepherd serving his father in the backwoods of Israel with the sheep.  He became King of Israel.

Moses served his father in law as a shepherd.  He led the people of Israel to the promised land.

Nehemiah was a cupbearer for the King of Babylon.  He rebuilt the walls of Jersualem and led a repopulation movement.

Joseph was forced into slavery but rose in the ranks of his masters house and then the prison because of the way he served.  He became prime minister of Egypt.

I was listening to the radio yesterday – so old school – and New Zealand poet Selina Marsh was talking about how she got her “big break” in becoming one of our leading poets.  She had been invited to a “gig” and told that there would be an amazing audience of 200 people.  She got to the venue to find out that the organiser had added an extra 0 by mistake and she was in a room with 20 chairs.  Of which only 8 were filled.  At first she was disappointed but then she thought she would just serve well and give her best performance.  What she didn’t know was that one of those 8 audience members sat on a board for the queen who appoints a commonwealth poet, for the whole commonwealth and for the queen.  He put her name forward and she has read for the queen and Barak Obama and travelled all around the world writing and speaking her poetry.   The bible puts it this way… don’t despise the day of small beginnings.

I met a evangelist this year who got his first start in leadership because he ironed the pastors shirts.  In his church they had a pastor who did everything and he and a few friends looked at what they could do to help. His friend cleaned the toilets every week before church.  He became the youth pastor.

Do you know how I got my first start as a youth leader?  I went to the church office and folded the newsletters.  When they needed a new leader, they asked me.

Often we can be passionate about something and feel called in a certain direction but if we’re not willing to be teachable, submitted and serving then it’s a red flag.   Our attitude to serving reflects our attitude to leadership.   Serving opens doors because it shapes our character and humility.  It works at a heart level and refines our motivations.

As Jesus said, you’re not called to lord over everyone you’re called to serve.  If you want to lead, serve.  If you want to be great, serve.  Doors will open if you serve.

Philippians 2:3-11

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature[a] God,    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;rather, he made himself nothing     by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,     he humbled himself     by becoming obedient to death—         even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted him to the highest place     and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,      in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.

 

 

Grand Design 6

5. Serving increases our faith.

Serving allows us to experience His power first-hand. We see God step in as we step out.

When my daughter was in year 3 she asked… no she began to pray in family prayers, that I would be her bible in schools teacher.  Now, to be honest, children scare me.  Even though they’re shorter than me, kids are scary!  So she prayed and then she told her bible in schools teacher that I am a Christian… so while dropping her off one Friday I was accosted by the bible in schools head.  So you’re a Christian… we need BIS teachers.  I told him I would pray about it.  Aka this is my polite Christian way of saying no thankyou.  God, bless his heart, right in that moment said WILL YOU REALLY?  Talk about convicted.  So yes I prayed.  I was chatting to a friend and she told me to make a list of not the pros and cons but the pros and pros.  Pros to do it and pros not to.

You know, pro for doing it – kids could get saved, pros revival could break out.  Pro for not doing it…. Crickets.

So I became her bible in schools teacher.  For 3 years.  And yes, kids are still scary but God was with me.   Even when you walk through the shadow of the valley… just kidding…. But God was with me and I felt Holy Spirit empowering me and giving me creative ways to communicate the gospel.

Serving increases our faith that as we step out God will step in.

Often we feel unqualified to serve or lead.  But it is as we serve that God empowers us.

 

Grand Design 5

4. Serving connects us with other Christians who can help us follow Jesus.

When we’re working side by side with other people, a bond inevitably forms. This was part of God’s plan for how the church is supposed to work.  We are meant to be connected.  We need each other.  That’s why Hebrews 10:24-25 instructs us to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together… but encouraging one another.”

Serving puts you side by side by different people who you may not naturally connect with, who are different to us, who challenge us on different levels and who God uses to iron sharpen iron aka grow us up.

When we are on a team we are connected to people who are going to encourage us, teach us, inspire us and that we’ll do life with.

When we did the Christmas production 20 years ago I auditioned because I was new to the church and wanted to be part of something to make friends.   That production is how my husband and I “um got together…” so you know…

“God uses what is happening in the Church to make us into the people of God, and He’s doing it through out-of-tune worship leaders, weird messages and awkward people we don’t want to sit next to.”  Brooke Ligertwood

 

 

Grand Design 4

3  Serving helps us to be more like Jesus.

Jesus is always serving.  He focuses on the needs of others and then answered them sacrificially.

Jesus encourages us to follow His lead and serve one another. After washing His disciples feet which was a great act of love, humility and service, Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you” (John 13:15).

When He is tired and wants to take a break, we see Him minister to those in His path out of sheer love and compassion for them.  When He is worn out and thirsty from travel, the need of the Woman at the Well leads to a moment of great healing.  When He is just trying to catch a little sleep while the fishermen disciples get them across the Sea, the fear and doubt of his followers led Him to calm the wind and the waves.  He sacrificed His hunger, thirst, fatigue and eventually His whole Body for His people.  It is who He is.

A follower of Jesus cannot truly know Him and be like Him unless they act like Him.  Jesus makes this point repeatedly in the Gospels.  The greatest among us is the servant, the slave of them all.  He did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.

Serving does an invisible work on the inside of us to make us more like Jesus because serving requires sacrifice and commitment and all the things that don’t come naturally to us.

 

Grand Design 3

2. Serving allows us to experience the joy and peace that comes from obedience.

1 Peter 4:10-11 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms… so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.”

 “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 can often over spiritualize things – we want revival, we want a great move of God, we want the lost to come and for this place to be filled to overflowing.    We want to be used by God to lay hands on the sick and see them healed, to give prophetic words and see mighty things happen… but great moves of God happen because we all say YES to whatever God is asking of us.  Move chairs on Friday night tick.  Do the dishes after Sunday, tick.  Serve in crèche tick.  Why?  Because all of those things have to happen to make room for people to come.  All the practical things that happen on a Sunday and during the week make room for people to meet Jesus.  When you put out the morning tea cups and supplies you are making room for conversations over coffee about Jesus that can change a life and a family.  When you serve in the crèche you make room for a mum and dad to be ministered to.

Our yes to serve and be part of the team makes room for the great things of God to happen.

Let’s not underestimate the eternal impact our obedience and saying yes has.

Jesus gets black and white on obedience: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (John 14:15, ESV)

We love God, then let the evidence of that be shown in the way we obey His call to use our gifts to serve.

 

God's Grand Design v6

“How God forms ‘me’ is inextricably linked to what God is forming in us as ‘we’ — the church.” – Brooke Ligertwood

God’s grand design is that each one of us step up and step out and use the gifts that He has given us to build His church and reach the world.   Every practical thing that happens here on a Sunday morning and during the week is part of the grand design to reach the world.  Every spiritual thing that happens here on a Sunday morning and during the week is part of the grand design to reach the world.  It takes every single one of us together to play the part that God has called us to do.

Grand Design 2

1. Serving helps us to discover and develop our spiritual gifts.

Sometimes we feel like we need a spiritual call to serve – if you need a sign THIS IS IT….

But seriously, sometimes we feel like we need to be called to step out but it is often in the process of stepping out that we discover who we are and who we are called to be.

Destiny is often a process of unfolding revelation.  There are the rare few individuals who know at the age of 8 what they want to be and chart out a roadmap to follow.

When I was 8 I wanted to be a brain surgeon and Madonna.  Until I realised I don’t like needles or blood at all and that my greatest fear was singing in public.  That killed that dream. Read the rest of this entry »

dVision 7

While on holiday in Blenheim last week I went to visit my brother – he’s a builder and has the most epic beard.  Over the past 8 weeks he has renovated their kitchen and living area.  He had kept me updated over the past 8 weeks with snapchats and photos of their progress.  Progress when you’re renovating is not pretty at first.  Their first step was to completely gut their kitchen and living area including removing the wall between the two rooms.  In winter, in Blenheim.  They stripped the stipple ceiling and jib board I confess, rather them than me.  Every weekend they would drop my neice,  off to my parents so they could install walls, paint, scrape, build, whatever.   Eva and I got to see the mostly finished product on Wednesday and it is beautiful.   All the work has paid off.  They have the most epic taps and cupboards that literally make you go oooooh.

 

Vision is a doing word.  It takes action.   We cant just dream, we have to do.

I love the book of proverbs.  Firstly, it nails you on those character things… but secondly, some of them are just funny.

Prov 22:13 The lazy one [manufactures excuses and] says, “There is a lion outside!

I will be killed in the streets [if I go out to work]!”

Proverbs 31:6 (New International Version)

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.

Proverbs 26:11 (New International Version)

Gray is a crown of splendor: it is attained by a righteous life.

 

But one that I have always enjoyed is this:

 

Proverb 14:4

Where there are no oxen, the feeding trough is clean, but an abundant harvest is produced by strong oxen.

 

It’s the poo profit ratio.  If you’ve got no oxen, you’ve got no poo.  But you’ve also got no harvest.  You’ve got to have the oxen to have the harvest and what do you know, oxen poop.

The idea is to have the poo profit ratio right.  Too much poo – not a good thing, you spend your time mucking the stall and up to the ankles in… .  Too little poo means too little profit.

Get the ratio right and we’re living the vision.

 

Every vision requires doing.

It requires work.  Effort.  Sweat.  Time.  Tears.  Strain.  Stretch.

As people of vision we must make each moment count.  Our whole life matters.  Dreams don’t magically come true at the right time without the right preparation and cultivation.

Do you dream of being an author?  Then write, now, today.

Do you dream of being a missionary?  Learn and serve, now, today.

Do you dream of being a worship leader?  Practice and join the worship team.

Do you dream of being a preacher?  Write messages, now, today.  Join a connect group

Don’t let your vision stay as just a blueprint.  Knock down walls and build stuff.

There are so many ways that we can feed our visions – podcasts, books, getting around people who are doing it – but at some point we need to just step out and trust God in the doing.

 

A few weeks ago I had the incredible privilege of speaking at a Renew Youth event in Whangarei.  Right up to the moment I stepped onto the stage and grabbed the mic I was freaking out and the voice in my head was saying why did we say yes to this, what were we thinking, can I back out now, I need to pee!

But as I stepped onto the stage it was like the Holy Spirit came upon me and through me and it was the sense of I am made for this.

Living out the vision may be scary – probably will be scary and bigger than what we can do on our own strength – but that is the awesomeness of doing life wth God.

Philippians 1:6 says that God will finish what He starts.  He started something in your life.  And He will see it through to the destination.  God is the dream giver and the dream fulfiller.  He gives us dreams….  those desires and thoughts you have are seeds of God’s plan.  And He doesnt just leave us to do it ourselves, He on purpose is at work to make the dreams come true.

Vision 3

Often we equate vision with doing but a massive part of vision is BEING.  We have to BE the vision, we have to BE the person that can live that vision.

Vision is more than what we do.

It is who we are.

“God-size dreams ensure our growth. When God calls us to something, it can feel awkward and uncomfortable, like someone handing us the wrong size in the dressing room. It gaps in strange places and pinches in others. We may find ourselves wanting to send it back for a more reasonably-sized dream, one that doesn’t cause so much discomfort.

But that’s a huge mistake.   God hands us an extra-large vision by design. He is not just interested in what we can accomplish for him, but in who we are becoming along the way. As we struggle to grow into what and who God calls us to do and be, we are changed and shaped more and more into the likeness of Christ.”  Michael Hyatt

 

In 1 Samuel 10 we read about the calling of Saul.

1 Samuel 10:23-24

23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”

Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

 

On the outside Saul looked like he was the right man for the job.  On the outside he was head and shoulders above everyone else, tall dark and handsome.

Saul’s downfall wasn’t a one time event but a series of consistent character flaws that revealed where his heart was at… he made snap decisions and followed his own heart, he built his own kingdom and did things his own way.

Compare this to David… he wasn’t even in the line up when Samuel was there to choose the new king

1 Samuel 16:6-7

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

 

In Acts 13:22 we read that God said that David is man after my own heart – David was a man after God’s heart.

Time and time again we read how David would seek God and follow God’s ways.  He wasn’t perfect and like all humans, had some serious character flaws, but for God to say that he was a man after God’s heart speaks volumes.

All the competency in the world can’t compensate for a lack of character. Not for long.

Eventually, ultimately, your character is your lid.

Even in your workplace character is a great level upper.  You may be the smartest person in the room but if you don’t follow through and keep your word and be kind then it may hinder you in stepping up.   Lack of character hurts marriages and friendships.  It erodes trust and closes the doors to opportunities.

As John Wooden famously said, he true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.  It means we’re the same with one person, as we are on a stage or with a thousand.   I read a great challenge the other day:  live as if everything you did and everything you said would be made public.

Saul, the man who was head and shoulders above everyone didn’t have the character to carry the crown.

Like it or not, here’s the truth:

Character, not competency, determines capacity.

 

2 Timothy 2:20-21 describes a house with objects used for common and special useage.

 

2 Timothy 2:20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. Therefore, if anyone purges himself from these, he shall be a vessel to honour, sanctified and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

 

So the question I want to ask today is simple.

What are you doing to grow your character?  What are you doing today to be prepared for every good work?  To be a person who will live the vision?

Psalm 119:11 says I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

As human beings we are flawed selfish creatures.  Which is why we so need Jesus!  By reading the word of God and letting it transform us inside out, letting it challenge us, letting it choose how we live and react and letting it determine our priorities, we allow God to shape our heart and it helps our character grow so we can BE the person that lives the dream.

One of the best ways to grow your character is to remain in God’s presence. And by keeping your attention fixed on Him, you will become changed.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18

We see in David’s life when he walked close with God making the right choices was easier – note I didn’t say easy, but easier.

Francis Chan says the secret to overcoming temptation – thus the secret to growing good character – is to know that God is greater.  We need to live that – in a very real awareness and sense of awe and worship that God is greater and the thankfulness that we can have a real relationship with Him.

Vision sets boundaries for how we live our life.    It affects our choices and how we spend our time.  It changes what we give our focus and attention to.

 

My dad was a marathon runner and I have very clear memories of how all encompassing the lead up to a marathon was.  He would run every day but leading up to a marathon those runs would start earlier and would often be followed up by an evening run.  Closer to the time he would take a Wednesday afternoon off (and work in the evening) and would build up his stamina and ability to run the distance.  We would go and watch the finish line and cheer him on and it was amazing to see the hundreds of people that would do this, for fun.   Dad’s vision was to run a marathon and so he trained his body to run the race.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 ESV

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

The MSG version puts it this way: You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.  26-27 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

The dream is free, but the journey isn’t. At some point, we have to make a transition from believer of the dream to buyer of the dream, from vision seer to vision be-er.  No dream comes true without somebody paying for it. If we want to achieve the vision, we have to be willing to do more than just imagine the outcome. We have to sacrifice our comfort, money, time, and energy.

“I encourage you today to embrace the change necessary in order to grow into the success that God has prepared for you. God calls us to step up and into His promises and purposes, and He will give you the grace to run your race.” ~ Christine Caine

 

“Your life from seed to full-grown tree is a process. We all like the idea of fruit, but rarely do we allow ourselves to build a root system.” Banning Liebscher

 

Vision 1

VISION is a picture of the future that gives passion in the present.

With God I believe there are 4 parts to vision.

  1. See the vision
  2. Grow the vision
  3. Be the vision
  4. Do the vision

 

The legendary sculptor, Michelangelo claimed that as he looked into the stone, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” His imagination had already created his masterpieces before his hands did the work.

Many people don’t jump start their lives because they don’t have anything to jump to! They plod along through life with little more than survival in mind. Visionaries dare to dream. They peer into the future and generate possibilities in their mind’s eye.

John Maxwell says : Vision is the roadmap to your destiny, the picture of your purpose. Without it, you may find yourself off course — or worse, going nowhere.

We all have limitations. Limited time, limited resources, and limited energy. We cant have it all.  Seeing the vision clearly helps us to prioritize which opportunities to bypass and which activities deserve our dedication.

The choices we make either draw us closer to our vision or push us farther away from it. If we’re unsure of the vision, then we won’t know how to make decisions that carry us in the right direction. Clear vision illuminates the path in front of us as we select which roads to travel down in life.

Vision gives significance to the otherwise meaningless details of our lives.  Too many times the routines of life begin to feel like shovelling dirt.  But take those same routines and responsibilities and view them through the lens of vision and everything looks different.  Vision brings your world into focus.  A clear vision enables you to see everything differently.  Andy Stanley

 

So we all now agree that Vision is important – its necessary!  But for some of us it can be one of those ethereal things we know we should have but we’re not sure how to actually get one.  You cant go buy one off the shelf and even reading amazing books or listening to inspiring podcasts may not help.

Now in talking about vision I’m not just talking about ministry.  Often in a church context we narrow our scope of what vision is to cool God stuff – which is cool and awesome.  But God doesn’t put vision in a box.  He wants us to have a vision for our lives and that can be ministry, or business, or the arts, or science or politics.  God doesn’t want us to limit our dreams to these 4 walls – to God there is no spiritual and secular.  Everything can be a God vision.

Firstly, vision is something you can ask God for.  He is the dream giver and the dream fulfiller.  God has a blueprint or intelligent design plan created for each and every one of our lives.  In Philippians 1:6 it says that God finishes what He starts.  He has a vision for your life and He doesn’t want it to be a secret.  He loves to share it!

Vision begins with surrender.  God I give you my life.  God I give you permission for you to lead me.  God I want to live for you.  God, here am I send me.

Proverbs 3:5-6 can sound like such a cliché but it’s a very real truth…  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

From that position of surrender God begins to stir our hearts towards “something” – and I say something because often we don’t fully know what that will look like but we can be fully assured that God will direct our paths.

When I was 16 I got saved at an easter camp and I knew right from that moment of salvation that I wanted to preach.  And even as years went by I knew that that was my vision and calling – to preach was part of my something.   As I walked with God and “grew up” that began to become more defined and clear.

There are some practical questions we can ask ourselves to help define our vision

Take some time to LOOK…

Within you: What is your passion?

Behind you: How have past lessons and experiences prepared you to pursue your passion?

Around you: What’s happening to others around you that inspire you or break your heart?

Ahead of you: What do you want to accomplish?

Above you: What part does God play in your life and dream?

Beside you: What resources are available to you?

Alongside you: Who can partner with you in this pursuit?

 

These questions might illuminate the seeds of vision God has planted within you.  Vision starts as a seed and often grows and unfolds as we step forward into it.

“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” Kim Walker Smith

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Worship Wednesday

1000 Things

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