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“Lamentations 3 tells us “His compassions are new every morning.”  God’s compassions, or mercies are available minute by minute, step by step, decision by decision, reaction by reaction.  We don’t have to get bogged down and label as unable.  We just have to ask God for forgiveness and move on. I am a woman on a journey of learning how to make sure my reactions don’t deny Christ’s presence in me.  ~ Lysa Terkeurst

Grace covers me.  All of me.  There are no spaces of my life where grace and the good news of the gospel cannot flow and bring hope.

Even the hidden spaces I am hiding from are seen and covered by the grace of God.

No matter what I do, I am covered by His grace.  No matter who I am, I am covered by His grace.

On my best days, and my worst.

In my strength and in my weakness.

This is the good news for everyone.  No matter how dark you feel your soul is, no matter how wild your behaviour, know that the grace of God is enough.   More than enough.

Grace invites us to draw near when we would hide.  Grace comes and sits beside you in your aloneness, in the space you shut everyone out.  It shines light into the corners where we shrink away.  It takes our hand.  It wipes away tears.  Grace is the new morning, the fresh start, the clean slate.  Truly.  Really.  Totally.

There is nothing we can do that will disqualify us from His love and make Him turn away from us.

No pit.

No affair.

No sickness.

No depression.

No cutting.

No anger.

No lying.

No darkness.

No mistake.

No rejection.

No fear.

Today there is hope.  Every day.  Moment by moment there is grace for the now.

In that grace there is the promise of change and healing.  In that grace is the removal of guilt and the warmth of real love that invites us to come close.

Grace says yes to us.

Open the door to grace.

Trust grace.  Say yes to grace.

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“The One who lives outside of time invites you into a reality that is informed by His perfect plans to give you hope and a future. God speaks in the past tense about battles you’re currently fighting. And He buries the shame of yesterday in order to resurrect the moment you are in and sustain you in the season He is calling you to embrace.”
― Steven Furtick

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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The promise of God is that He finishes what He starts.

I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]. Philippians 1:6 AMP

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. Philippians 1:6 MSG

I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! Philippians 1:6 TPT

God is at work to mature us, to transform us and to make us into the men and women of God He created us to be.  We are designed on purpose, with a purpose.

Today you can be confident that God sees you and that He loves you.  He has great plans and purposes for your life and He is fully committed to seeing His success through your life.

 

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Have any of you here done anything that scared you so much you thought you might have a I need new pants moment…. Or that your heart might stop…. Or that you might never survive???

A few years ago we went to The Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise baby!

We hit the theme parks, Sea world, Wet and Wild and Movie World.

Movie world has this one ride that scared the whatever out of me but that I knew I had to get my son to do.  I knew he wouldn’t do it unless I did.  So we made a deal.  I would hold a snake if he would ride the rollercoaster with me.

So we lined up for the Superman Escape Ride.  After waiting waiting waiting about 45 minutes it was our turn.  It is at this point that my son informs me that you accelerate from zero to 100 in 2 seconds.  Yes.  What the heck!  I confess at that moment I felt slightly faint and the room felt warmer and yeah….

Now the start of the roller coaster is pretty chill.  You slowly cruise round inside an underground subway system as it tells you the story of Metropolis… and then you sit…. In front of you is the light at the end of the tunnel and you sit there… waiting…  and then WHOOSH!

As we shot out now going 100km an hour my son and I had very different reactions.  I could not scream because I was too scared.  Nor could I shut my eyes.  However my son started with some noise then closed his eyes for the rest of his short life… I mean for the rest of the ride…

At the end I stumbled off the roller coaster, we laughed and high fived because we had survived!   My fearless 9 year old niece who also rode with us was like that was the best ride ever auntie Claire now can we go on the green lantern….  Like heck no!

It took courage for me to go on the superman escape.  And the reward of my courage was bragging rights and the thrill of the experience!

 

I want to introduce you to 3 people who lived life with incredible courage.

 

If you’ve got a bible app scroll to Daniel 3.  While you’re doing that let me give you a backstory.

So Shadrach, Meshach and Abendago are 3 friends and along with their mate Daniel.  They were born in Israel and when we read about them they’re teenagers and they were taken as captives from Israel to a place called Babylon where they were assimilated and retrained and kept there as prisoners of war.

 

Babylon is everything Israel is not.   In Israel they believe in God and live by a moral code.  In Babylon they don’t.  In fact the king set himself up as a god, had a massive gold statute of himself made and when the music played da da da dahhhh everyone had to bow down to the statue in worship.  This was not some optional extra or some freedom of choice thing, you HAD TO BOW DOWN or you’d be thrown in the crazy fiery furnace aka big bad fire.

This was the world they lived in AND in some degree it is the world we live in. Read the rest of this entry »

So we all love movies where the hero overcomes the odds, scores the girl, defeats the bad guy, saves the day, right?  As of the start of the week ENDGAME has made $2.73 billion which means a lot of people have seen it including one fan, Agustin Alanis who has seen it 103 times.

It’s like there is something in our DNA that is drawn towards stories of ordinaryish people who rise up and become the hero and I think something in all of us that wonders if we were put in that position… if we were bit by the spider… if we found a droid with a secret message… if we were struck by lightning… that we would accept the challenge and be the hero.. am I right?

Well in the bible we meet about a moment just like this – a guy plucked out of obscurity, chosen by God to be king, who against all the odds defeats the bad guy and saves the day.

So Israel have this king, Saul, but he’s gone off the rails a bit and God has chosen a new guy to be king and sends Samuel, the prophet to go and anoint the new king.

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Now here begs the question… where do you find a new king?  There aren’t schools for kings, you cant go to a shop and select one off the shelf and you cant order one from the internet.  Perhaps you could do a show like the bachelor, where you give a rose to the candidates and end up living happily ever after with the king at the end…  or survivor “the tribe has spoken”…

God tells Samuel to go to visit a family in Bethlehem and that he has chosen one of his sons to be king.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The best leaders are servant leaders. However, while servanthood is embedded in their character, they also understand the importance of leadership skills. Consider the word SERVE to remind you of the importance of both character and skills.

 

The SERVE model represents the 5 fundamental skills of great leaders.  Great leaders:

See the future

Engage and Develop Others

Reinvent Continuously

Value Results and Relationships

Embody the Values

 

Leading others begins with a vision (See the Future) and enlisting someone to help you go after it (Engage and Develop Others). Then, as you begin to grow, change is inevitable. You will be required to adapt and adjust (Reinvent Continuously), and balance the tension between results and people (Value Results and Relationships). Finally, keep in mind, people always watch the leader. Leaders go first and leave last (Embody the Values).

As you work on your skills don’t neglect the importance of your heart. If your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills. The most powerful weapon a leader has in his ‘lead others’ arsenal is a heart rooted in love.

 

Again let’s look at Mary and Martha in Luke 10.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[f]Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

It was Martha who invited Jesus for dinner, who opened her home for Jesus to come in, for Jesus to minister.  It was Martha who opened the door and said come in to Jesus and the disciples and it was Martha who then complained about all the work that had to be done.

If Martha didn’t open the door and invite Jesus in there would have been no work.  But there would have been no relationship and no reward either.

How many times do we ask to see God move, we pray for revival, we want to see great and mighty things of God, but then complain about the “stuff that has to be done”, the tasks, that service may require.  We pray God let your kingdom come, your will be done but then when it comes to do x y z we shrink back.  We sing I wanna know you more, how us your glory but our bible is dusty or our youversion app streak doesn’t pass 7…

Service is not just about our actions but more importantly about our attitude.  It’s about being motivated by our love for God and our love for others.

It’s about a I get to attitude instead of I have to.

I get to come to church vs I have to come to church.

I get to be a youth leader instead of I have to.

I get to give vs I have to give

I get to worship vs I have to

Let’s be a team that sees the honour of being able to serve a cause that is far greater than what we can see.   Let’s be a team that sees the big picture.  When we serve we need to take our eyes off what we’re doing to realise that by what we do we make a way for people to ENCOUNTER Jesus and our very actions, our very service is seen as worship to Jesus!

The Bible tells us, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

Love is not a passive word.

It is a word that bleeds example — action — effort — and generosity.

If you want to lead others well, love will drive your words and behaviour.

The driving force of the Paul as he engaged and developed others was love. Love motivated his vision to share God’s good news — impart his very life to others — work a job so that he wasn’t a burden to anyone — live as an example — care for others as a father would his own children — and encourage others to honour God in everything. In his life we see that Paul was a genuine servant leader.

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 says “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God who calls you into His kingdom and glory.”

man standing on stair case looking up

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“How we lead ourselves in life impacts how we lead those around us.” ― Michael Hyatt

The first, and often most challenging, responsibility of a leader is to lead SELF.

Self-leadership definition is: Self-leadership is having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do, where you are going coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviours on the way to getting there.

 

Self Leadership is ‘Inside-Out’ Leadership.

Self-leaders are constantly developing: Self-awareness and Self-confidence

Self-awareness  is about knowing who God has created you to be and about being real about your strengths and weaknesses, knowing your motivations and values, as well as knowing what can ‘push your buttons’ and derail you.

To quote Thor’s Mum – EVERYONE FAILS AT WHO THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO BE, THOR. A MEASURE OF A PERSON, OF A HERO, IS HOW WELL THEY SUCCEED AT BEING WHO THEY ARE.

Self-confidence comes from knowing your strengths and abilities. As we take actions and develop skills, we become more confident.  As Christians it’s also about knowing that God is within us to empower us to serve Him.

 

“So, Jotham became mighty because he ordered his ways before the Lord his God.” — 2 Chron. 27:6 NASB

Jotham was not mighty because he had a great vision or a big army or an amazing leadership team or even an important position and title. He was mighty ‘because’ he did something. That something was to regularly lead himself into the presence of God and order his life. Everything flowed from his self-leadership discipline.

Read the rest of this entry »

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