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Kings 19:19-21

So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

 

Elisha left his whole life, he killed ad burned his ox, he gave it all way

And followed Elijah and became his servant.

Radical commitment

Radical attitude

Radical surrender

How could he do that?

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ash blaze bonfire burn

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lots of people ask me how I became a YP – and its an interesting story of how we can trust God with our destiny and that as we follow Him day by day He leads us into His purposes.  My husband and I have always volunteered.  It was one of the things that attracted me to him even on the first day that I saw him – legit!  Anyway we had been running a young adults connect group in our home and our youth pastor resigned to take up an opportunity to play professional rugby in another city..  And it got near the end of the year and they still hadn’t found anyone – which I thought was crazy because didn’t everyone want to be in ministry??? My pastor asked me if I would step in and fill the gap, just for a few months until they find someone and to be honest even though I said yes I didn’t think that they would need me, because of course they would find someone.  But no, the day approached and I stepped in expecting it to be just a couple of months, a fill the gap and keep things going for the real youth pastor.   However, who knows that God can get you to where He wants you.  After about 2 weeks I realized that I loved this.  I loved the youthies.  I loved the leaders.  I loved what God was doing.  At the end of the 2 months my contract was up but there was still no “real youth pastor”.  At that point I had a meeting with Pastor Peter in which I cried and said I love this so much and don’t want you to find anyone…  So here I am in my 5th year as youth pastor at my awesome church.

Some of you here might be on the journey of finding out who you are and who God has made you to be and what He is calling you to do.   You are created on purpose, with purpose.

Ephesians 1:11 says “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who fworks out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will”

God has chosen us in advance and makes everything work out according to his plan.  God has a plan and He sees the bigger picture. Read the rest of this entry »

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

 

I love the slow pace of the new year – its time to rest, chillax, stop collaborate and listen… which for me means binge watching west wing, sleep ins and reading lots.

To kick the year off I read Shawn Bolz Translating God, which if you’re interested in knowing God more and making Him known more is well worth the read.

In Translating God he talks about connecting with Brian Welch, guitarist of Korn, who is a born again Christian and seeing God at work in and through his life.  Korn for those who don’t know, is a heavy heavy heavy metal band.  Its lyrics and concerts are not pretty.   Think drugs, sex rock and roll and then multiply that by 10 and you’re maybe getting a clear picture.  After getting saved Brian stepped away from Korn, realising that it perhaps wasn’t the best environment to walk with God and live free.  After about 10 years though he felt led by God to rejoin the band and now at concerts has a team of prophetic people scout around the audience handing out VIP backstage passes to meet with him.  These fan meet and greets however aren’t just about signing autographs or having selfies with Brian, they’re gospel presentations and supernatural encounters that see people saved and set free.  Heavy metal fans who went for a concert and met their Saviour.

I wouldn’t call Brian ordinary, but God chooses to use ordinary people to extraordinary things.  I love how God loves to use the unexpected to do amazing things.

Think about some of the main players in the Bible.

Moses – Hebrew baby, hidden away despite a death order for all male babies, then adopted by the Egyptian princess, raised in the palace who then discovers his heritage, murders an eyptian and flees to the backside of the desert where he becomes a shepherd for his father in law.  God then uses him to deliver the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt and to lead them to the promised land.

David – a man after God’s heart, who commits adultery and then has the womans husband murdered

Peter – a fisherman who often speaks before he thinks, who denys Jesus 3 times, even after Jesus told him he would

Mary was an unwed mother.

Jonah ran away from God.

Elijah was depressed and suicidal.

Jacob was a liar and a cheat.

Paul, who wrote at least ½ of the New Testament, orchestrated the genocide of Christians in the early church.

 

God has proved time and time again that He moves in unexpected ways through unexpected people, yet when it comes to our own lives we often want God to colour inside the lines, to be a cosmic genie granting our wishes and moving in predictable safe ways.

 

Think about some of the key moments in the Bible:

Walking around the walls of Jericho in silence until the 7th day was an unexpected battle plan.

Splitting the Red Sea was an unexpected escape route for the people of Israel as they fled from Egypt.

From the prison to the palace was an unexpected progression for Joseph.

Boy chosen to defeat a giant was an unexpected choice and a massive risk!

An elderly couple who have been barren have a promised son is outside the laws of nature.

The first preacher of the new church was an uneducated fisherman who just over a month ago had publically denied even knowing Jesus was an unexpected leadership promotion.

Being born as a human child to a virgin teenage girl, who then wed a carpenter and grew up in obsecurity, becoming a capenter himself, revealed as the Son of God who then was arrested and executed on the cross – our Saviour Jesus Christ, whose death seemed like defeat but was the greatest victory as it was the punishment for our sins and the price paid to rescue and redeem us, and was not the final say as Jesus didn’t stay dead but rose to life!

 

This morning at the start of the year I want to challenge us to say yes to the unexpected and to equip us with some keys to empower us to thrive when the unexpected comes our way.

 

 

 

Nothing is Unexpected to God.

 

One of the things I love about God is that nothing takes Him by surprize.  We will face the unplanned and the unexpected this year, but we’re loved by a Saviour who knows no surprises.

Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

 

Luke 12:7 says that God knows the number of hairs on our head which means He is paying attention to even the tiniest detail of our lives!

 

God is never surprised. To be surprised you have to be uncertain about what is coming. You have to not know things. God never not knows about the future or about anything. He is never uncertain about what is coming.

We can know this for at least two reasons. One is that the Bible shows that knowing the future, even the future of human decisions, is part of what it means to be God. And the other is that the Bible shows that God knows the future because he plans the future.

Sometimes  you just have to yell PLOT TWIST and then carry on in full assurance that God is the author of our life and that your plot twist did not shock Him.

God is all powerful and when we find ourselves facing a giant, or blocked by the red sea, or up against walls we can be confident that God is able and that nothing is impossible to Him.   We often box Him in and place our human limitations on God who has no limits.

This means that we can put our hope in God.  We can put our trust in Him.  He is the God who never fails.   He is the God that promises to complete the good work He has begun in us and that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his children who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.

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Occupy Sermon Series DP.jpg

The start of the year is a great time to refocus and catch God’s heart for our lives.  Many people make resolutions, make lifestyle changes, take holidays as well as those who start new jobs or new courses.

We’ve been talking about Occupying your Occupation at the start of this year at church – getting a vision for a significant part of our lives, and reframing it from just work to being on mission.

God has placed us in our workplace, our classes, our circles of influence on purpose and with a purpose and when we catch His heart for these spaces in our lives we can see significant things happen. Read the rest of this entry »

FP3134.jpg

 

The other week I had a dream I knew was from God.  Last night I shared about it with my youth at HKC as they were main characters in it.

In my dream a whole bunch of us were in a massive hotel.  It had many floors and elevators and stairs.  We were in a room with huge glass windows and glass French doors that showed us the rest of the hotel.  It had a library and big tv and comfy sofas.  While we were hanging out the hotel hallways started to fill with people.  Some were faces I knew and some were strangers.  Then there was a noise.  We looked out the windows to the outside and into the hallways and the hotel was been taken over by daleks.

The Daleks were going round saying EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE and zapping people.  We moved the couches and shelves over the doors and barricaded ourselves in the big safe room.  But we realized that the people in the halls were in danger and at opportune moments we would pull the couches back and then rush into the halls warning people and getting them to come into the big safe room with us.  In the big room they could read and rest or watch a movie.  More and more people joined us and then more and more people were going into the hallways and up the stairs and rescuing people.

RESCUED PEOPLE RESCUE PEOPLE

 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[e] so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Cor 5:19-21

Being a rescuer starts from the inside out.  It starts with making rescuing a priority.  It starts with aligning our heart and goals and identity with His heart, His goals and His identity.

It starts with knowing that our mission is to know God and make Him known, that “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” Luke 19:10.  Like really knowing.

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be-strong-courageous

Christine Caine posted on fb recently “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

We have to be aware of our weaknesses and be prepared to grow and deal with our stuff.  We all have stuff.  We all have flaws.   We waste an enormous amount of energy trying to cover up our sins, our hurts, our hang-ups, and our defects. If we spent as much time being honest about what’s not right in our life as we do covering it up, we’d have a lot more energy for what is right in our life.

The thing about weaknesses is that we often on our strengths but leave ourselves vulnerable to attack, or to falling over in that area.  During WW2 Singapore was a very powerful military base.  With a seemingly impenetrable jungle behind it they focused all their defences towards the sea.  However the city was conquered, not by sea but by the Japanese who cut a single track bicycle track through the jungle.

The battle for sin starts in our mind, not in our behaviour. The way we think determines the way we feel, and the way we feel determines the way we act. If we want to change the way we act, we start by changing the way you think and feel by aligning it to the Word of God.

 

This is the beauty of the call of God, that he chooses to do extraordinary things with ordinary people, with broken people, with messy people.  He uses rescued people to rescue people.  That takes courage in itself, to be open to God.  We know He sees all and knows all but how many of us like to pretend that that there are places in our heart that He cannot see?  Or is that just me? We have a responsibility to not stay the same, to not hide from ourselves but to be honest and to let God into those places.

 

 

God uses change to change us. He doesn’t use it to destroy us or to distract us, but to coax us to the next level of character, experience, compassion and destiny!   God uses change to transform us so we can live a best life and have relationshi8ps that flourish and can make the most of the opportunities that come our way.

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be-strong-courageous

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. Hebrews 11:3

We frame our worlds with the words we speak.  ~ Christine Caine

In the beginning God spoke and the world we see around us, the light, the constellations, the air, the grass, the incredible diversity of plants and animal life, the majestic mountains and the depths of the oceans, it was formed by the words that God spoke.

Let there be light, and there was.

God continues to speak and continues to create in our lives.

Our world is still being created by the power of God’s Words.

And as image bearers of God, our words have power to frame our worlds.

Our words speak life or death, hope or hopelessness, light or darkness. There are consequences for the words we choose and speak. Our words frame how confident we feel and how fearlessly we tackle life. They infuse courage into our actions and choices. They look past circumstances and instead hold on by faith to the faithful promises of God.

Or in reverse, our words can shame and restrain us. They place walls around the opportunities and expect failure.   Instead of creating, they decimate.

 

Psalm 141: 3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips

David was mostly good at this – it was his prayer in Psalm 141.  If you read the psalms you see the authentic real life going ons of David.  It’s like facebook BC.  He is real about the hard times.  He pours out his fears, his sorrows.  But then he reminds himself that God is good and the best is yet to come.  Sometimes we get real, but forget to then refocus on God.

 

Michael Hyatt wrote this on his blog: I think almost every problem we experience can be traced back to the stories we tell ourselves. There may be a good reason for these stories, but in the end they produce bad outcomes

He suggests we change our story, thus changing our life.

I suggest we align our story with God’s Word.

 

Not just the words contained within the pages of the Bible, but the personal words that God has breathed life into for each one of us. The things God has whispered into our heart.

He says you are loved.

He says you are chosen.

He says you are called.

He says you are empowered, to do all and everything that He has purposed you to do.

He says you belong.

 

We need to allow Him to write HIS story into our heart, changing the soundtrack of negativity and insecurity that we often play on repeat, replacing it with faith and fearlessness in the expansive grace of God.

This year let’s be really intentional about how we speak – about ourselves, about others, to ourselves to others.

Christine Caine

What is impossible with people is possible with God. We just have to believe that God has called us to go into the world in His name, and not listen to the crippling or even paralyzing labels and limitations imposed by others. We cannot allow them to daunt us.” Christine Caine

What do you allow to limit you?

Is it something someone has said to you?

Or something you have said to yourself?

How many times have we felt that call from God to step out of the boat, but have felt ourselves held back by something or someone?

Today is a new day.

It is a day to step out with freedom.

It is a day to rip out those negative voices recorded on the tape of our memory and mind and replace them with updated confidence that comes from knowing who we are in Christ.

In Christ we are capable.

In Christ we are empowered.

In Christ we can do all things.

In Christ we can have confidence. Not in our own ability or gifting or talents but in His all sufficient power and grace. We are just jars of clay so that the all surpassing power be shown to be of God, not of ourselves.

This one verse, in 2 Corinthians 4:7, inspires me and challenges me to say YES to God when He calls me out of the comfort zone.

I trust not in my own ableness, but in His grace that makes me able.

What is impossible for me, is possible with God.

Any label, given by someone or given by myself, must bow to His Lordship and His call.

Any label must surrender its power to cripple me to the power of God to empower me.

I choose to not let any label paralyze me but I get up and walk into destiny and adventure.

I choose to not let my flaws and limitations daunt or intimidate me, but I fix my eyes on One who is Greater and One who promised that He would finish what He started, who prepared me before the foundation of the world to serve Him and live to give Him glory.

Jesus comes into the prison of our fears and regrets and guilt and shame and sadness and says “I love you no matter what.” You are free. ~ Tullian Tchividjian

What label are you holding onto instead of embracing the freedom Jesus has given us?

What holds you back from saying yes?

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