Category Archives: Leadership

Discipleship From A Distance

Been thinking about discipleship a bit recently.

I’m so grateful for leaders and spiritual (and natural!) parents who’ve taken the time and energy to personally walk with me and invest into my life. I’m doing what I’m doing today because of what they gave me….

Hmmm… maybe they’d prefer to not take credit for how my life has turned out… haha ūüôā

Anyway… I’ve been thinking too about how I’ve ALSO been discipled by people I never had a personal relationship with. I saw something on their life that I wanted to be like, and I MYSELF took the time and energy to read their books, listen to their music or messages, go to their conferences. They may have never known my name or the effect that they’d had on me. But they’ve been incredibly influential and there’s things I do differently in my life simply because I learnt it from them.

A great example of this for me is Keith Green. Keith died in a plane crash in 1982 when I was only 6, and it would be another 9 years before I ever ‘discovered’ his ministry. Yet I throughout my teenage years I devoured everything and anything he’d written, played, said or done! He was totally my teacher and I was absolutely discipled by him‚Ķ after he‚Äôd already been taken to glory!

“Special Time‚ÄĚ?
Ps Phil Pringle made a fascinating point at the C3 Leaders conference I was at earlier this year. He said that often people ask him to mentor or disciple them, and what they’re really asking for is ‘special time’ with him.

He then went on to say that it‚Äôs been interesting for him how over the years, there‚Äôs been all these peope he spent ‚Äėspecial time‚Äô with, who never really listened or took on board anything he said. But then, he‚Äôs found people all over the world who have read his books, listened to his messages, went to his seminars, and who are living out in their lives the very essence of what he preaches.

So the question has to be asked really – who is the true disciple? The one who gets the ‚Äėspecial time‚Äô or the one who actually listens and puts into practice what is taught? Of course these things aren‚Äôt always mutually exclusive. There are those who get ‚Äėspecial time‚Äô who become true disciples for sure. But it‚Äôs really made me think.

Discipled From A Distance
I never met Keith, but I learned a lot of my piano style by studying and imitating his music and I got a foundation for ministry through his uncompromising, sold-out life for Jesus.

I‚Äôve only met Ps Phil once in person, but his teachings on faith and vision, and his answer to a question I asked at a leaders event earlier this year on how he spends time with God have been absolutely put into practice for me. I‚Äôve been a disciple in those areas through blogs, podcasts and from three chairs along from the left in Row 49 ūüôā

So what conclusion does it bring me to? It makes me think that perhaps discipleship isn’t just about the teacher taking the time to pursue the student. Perhaps it’s equally as much about the student taking the time to pursue the teacher!

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The Tempter

“After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‚ÄúIf you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread‚ÄĚ – Matthew 4:1-2

The dictionary defines ‚Äėtempt‚Äô as meaning ‘to entice or try to entice (someone) to do something that they find attractive but know to be wrong or unwise‚Äô.

Right from the first moment we meet the devil in Genesis 3, he’s doing business with humanity Рenticing and offering a substitute for God’s best.

What’s interesting here is that the devil pitches up after Jesus has fasted and waited on God for 40 days and right before Jesus gets his breakthrough.

In my experience, I’ve always found that he comes around in that time between sacrifice and breakthrough. When we’ve paid a price to set ourselves apart for God, or we’ve taken an action of obedience, but we haven’t seen God fulfill his promise yet. That’s prime devil-zone.

He comes in with lies (‚Äėwhat are you doing? God‚Äôs not going to come through‚Ķ you‚Äôre wasting your time‚Äô) or he comes selling something less than what God has promised, but with the bonus that you can have it right here, and right now.

The passage goes on and three times Jesus resists him, until the devil finally leaves‚Ķ and ‚Äėangels attend him‚Äô (v11).

If we stand firm through temptation, then we will receive the promise that God has for us. And it’s not some second-rate substitute Рit’s the real deal!

When Leaders Fall

My heart was ripped up¬†yesterday hearing the news of a pastor friend of mine in another city¬†who has¬†had to leave the¬†ministry because he wasn’t careful with his¬†personal boundaries. ¬†I’m not usually too much one for tears, but they came yesterday… for him, for his church, for the people involved, for the community he’s been a part of. ¬†I’m totally gutted about it… and I wasn’t even that close to what unfolded.

I’m sure there’s a lot of pointing fingers right now, and a heap¬†of blame and accusation swirling¬†around. ¬†Without¬†a doubt some bad decisions were made in this situation, and now the tragic consequences are being played out. ¬†But I’m a bit slower these days to get out my torch and pitchfork and join angry mobs. ¬†I was an expert on pastoral ministry before I became a pastor¬†myself. ¬†Much like I was a self-proclaimed authority¬†on parenting before we had kids ūüôā I’m still an idealist at heart,¬†but¬†with nearly a decade of pastoring under my belt now –¬†I think I have a much better understanding of¬†the unique pressures that church leaders¬†are under.

So I’m writing this post partly¬†to help me process the pain in my heart that I‚Äôm feeling about this situation. ¬†But I also want to communicate¬†a perspective, a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at¬†how the process of how fantastic and gifted¬†leaders get themselves into trouble. ¬†People are often gobsmacked – “How did that amazing, anointed¬†pastor¬†do something as stupid as that?”.¬† Unfortunately,¬†history shows us that¬†the path to that destination is¬†seemingly¬†too easy to take. ¬†So¬†how do leaders end up there, and how should we react when a leader takes a fall?

The Set-Up

When I started out pastoring, I was blindly ignorant to the balancing act of ‘Cirque Du Soleil’¬†proportions that was awaiting¬†me! ¬†You need to have a strong vision and¬†bold leadership, but at the same time, be careful and¬†considerate to the weak and the hurting. ¬†You need to move quickly sometimes and painstakingly slowly at others. ¬†You need to keep a burning¬†passion for the spiritual house¬†that God is building, while being able to make seemingly inane practical decisions on ‘physical house’¬†of the church building. ¬†You have to stay focussed¬†on those who’ve never heard the gospel while also not neglecting the spiritual¬†growth¬†of those who have responded to Christ. ¬†You need¬†to care enough about people to hold relationships tightly, but be gracious enough¬†to respond well when¬†a¬†person who you’ve invested years of your life¬†into announces¬†that their ‘season has changed’¬†and they’re moving on.¬† You need to keep sight of the big picture and the small details. ¬†It‚Äôs a pressured job that can easily get on top of you without constant vigilance, prayer, faith and most of all a close walk with God.

But it‚Äôs not only a job, it‚Äôs a very, very personal job.¬† There‚Äôs perhaps few other roles where every part of a person‚Äôs life comes under such scrutiny and is seen so widely.¬† We expect our leaders to model¬†the¬†Christian faith to us, to give us the example that we can follow. ¬†We expect that their¬†prayer life will be awesome, their families perfect, their decisions Solomon-like, and¬†that they¬†won’t let us down.

Yet in spite of the vast amount of writings, sermons and conversations about how putting leaders on pedestals sets them up to fail…¬†it’s still going on, and I think it always will. ¬†It’s the cost¬†of leadership. ¬†I’m not¬†writing this to complain¬†about it – my personal feeling is if you can’t handle the heat in the kitchen, then¬†maybe a career as a chef isn’t for you! ¬†Every job has it’s challenges and I‚Äôve listed just a few of the ones that¬†church leaders face.¬† But I share this to make it easier to understand the next point ‚Äď that the unique pressures on pastors not only requires a lot of energy and dedication, but it also makes it really hard for them to have real, open¬†friendships with people.

It comes as a surprise to many that pastors are often some of the most isolated¬†and lonely people in the church. ¬†“Surely not!” ¬†you¬†say, “that warm and smiling, super-positive guy who spends his weeks having coffees and chats, and on Sunday’s¬†works through the¬†queue¬†of people¬†waiting to¬†grab a moment of his time? ¬†Lonely? ¬†No one to talk to? ¬†Why, he’s friends with everyone!”. ¬†But actually it’s really hard to have close friends¬†when you’re in pastoral ministry. ¬†A big reason for this is that we build relationships with each other by sharing what‚Äôs on our hearts and what‚Äôs going on in our minds.¬† But it‚Äôs a totally different deal for pastors because:

  • When you hold¬†people’s secrets and they’ve trustingly confided in you, you don‚Äôt want to let something slip so… you start to become very careful about what you say.
  • When¬†you¬†think something out loud and find that you’ve unwittingly created a new church policy, and people are coming or leaving based on something you just said once… you start to become very careful about what you say.
  • When the person you thought would be responsible to keep something on the down-low¬†blabs it to all in sundry (“I’m just telling you this so you can pray “…lol!) … you start to become very careful about what you say.
  • When¬†you shared how you were honestly feeling with another pastor or leader, and then rather than draw close and help you¬†they avoid you¬†… you start to become very careful about what you say.

And so the stage is set. ¬†Tired from the continual balancing act, burdened by the expectations of people, managing the relentlessness with which Sunday comes around every week,¬†and facing difficulty having¬†open, honest conversation with others – you’ve got a¬†church leader who’s in dangerous territory. ¬†More often than not, they don’t even realise how close to the edge they are before they fall off it.

There Is No Little Sin

No one wakes up one morning and says to themselves ¬†“You know, I think I’ll have an affair today”, or “Yes, it¬†seems like a good point in time¬†to move thousands of dollars of church money into my bank account to pay off my personal credit card”. ¬†Every ‘big and visible sin’ starts as a¬†tiny thought-seed. ¬†Removing a seed from the ground is a fairly small matter. ¬†Removing¬†the¬†massive oak it‚Äôs become, with¬†roots spreading in all¬†directions is another matter altogether. ¬†You can get it out, but it‚Äôs going to¬†have a visible and often long-lasting effect on the landscape.

Romans 11:29 says that the ‘gifts and calling of God are irrevocable’. ¬†What this means is that when God gives a person a gift, He doesn’t take it back. ¬†The ability to operate in a gift doesn’t depend on a person’s character. ¬†This is simultaneously the greatest blessing that God could give us, and our most vulnerable¬†Achilles heel. ¬†It means that we¬†don’t have to have perfect lives to minister in our gifts and callings. ¬†Halleljuah! ¬†It also means… we don’t have to have perfect lives to minister in our gifts and callings.¬† Hmmm.

I can’t take this from personal experience (thankfully, and I pray for God’s strength), but I’d wager that at some point every¬†church leader who has ended up taking¬†a public fall discovered that they could hold on to small sins privately, and it didn’t¬†seem¬†to make any difference to their ministry. ¬†They were awakened to the¬†fact that their gifts appeared¬†intact even when they were allowing compromises in¬†secret. ¬†This is why it’s so important that we realise that sin is not just what hurts us or what hurts other people, sin is actually whatever God says sin¬†is, and¬†all too¬†often¬†it¬†doesn’t have an immediate effect. ¬†You can’t discern the seriousness of a sin based on whether or not you were able to get away with doing it and still preach up a storm on Sunday.

The worst part of sin is that the more it grows the¬†harder we find it¬†to confess. ¬†We feel ashamed¬†of the seed-thoughts that we have, and so¬†we keep them hidden. ¬†In the fertile soil of darkness and secret, they grow into small actions and compromises, and so we work harder to keep them hidden. ¬†Over time, if we don’t deal with them, they start¬†to become noticeable to others, so we lie and deceive to keep our reputation intact.¬† We condone and justify our actions by seeing the sin as a kind of ‚Äėself-medication‚Äô, ‚Äėa little payback‚Äô for the difficulty of the job we‚Äôre doing and the fact that we‚Äôre feeling alone and unsupported.

All this is unfortunately all-too-common human nature, but when you add the dimension of this taking place in the heart of a pastor, it’s a whole other deal. ¬†Righteousness and holiness is not just part of his life… it’s in his job description. ¬†He gets paid to be holy ūüôā (you might want to throw things at me for saying that, but you know it’s true!). ¬†So it’s little wonder that when pastors fail to deal with sin-seeds and they end up with a private locker that’s starting to overflow into their public life…¬†that they will go to great lengths to try to cover up their failing. ¬†Their livelihood depends on it!

So there we have it – a church leader who’s tired¬†from¬†the circus balancing act of ministry, who can’t talk¬†openly to anyone about it, who’s got a triffid growing in secret, and they’re¬†desperately trying to keep it under control¬†so they don’t lose their job. ¬†It’s the perfect storm.

One Way Or Another

1 John 1:9 is a wonderful verse. ¬†It tells us¬†that if we confess our sins to God, He’s faithful to forgive them. ¬†I remind myself of this verse on a daily basis! ¬†But you know, it’s not enough for us just to¬†confess our¬†sins to God. ¬†Every leader who ever¬†fell spent a lot of time after they’d sinned¬†confessing their sins to God and asking for His forgiveness. ¬†They promised God that they would never do that thing again. ¬†I’m sure they were genuine and they really meant what they prayed.¬† But leaders are still falling.¬† We need something more.¬† That’s why God also gave us James 5:16 –¬†“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for each other,¬†so that you may be healed“.

Confessing our sins to God gets us forgiven. ¬†Confessing our sins to others gets us healed. ¬†It’s not enough just to talk about sin with God, we¬†need¬†to talk about it with other people too.

It’s never a pleasant experience¬†to have to own up to¬†what’s going on in your thought life in the presence of another person. ¬†It’s a reminder of how human you are, and how much you have yet to grow in¬†the image of Christ. ¬†But if we skip this step because it feels shameful, or we don’t have the time for it, or because ‘I’m the pastor and I’m supposed to be perfect’ – then all we’re doing is¬†trading a small and private unpleasant experience for what could very well end up being a large and public unpleasant experience. ¬†The choice is ours.

How To Not Be A Statistic

I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years, having watched as we all have the¬†devastating effects of¬†a church leader falling.

Personally, I’ve come to this conclusion: A choice has to be made deep within your heart as a leader that you’re not going to indulge in hidden sin. ¬†You have to regularly do the math on small compromises and realistically face where they will take you if you don‚Äôt deal with them.¬† The little ‘treats’, the little ‘just this once’ – in the moment they can seem trivial.¬† But we need to see the end of the story to work out just how ‚Äėtrivial‚Äô they may be.

Put yourself in the church meeting where it’s all come out and now you have to stand up and apologise to everyone… your spouse standing there with tears streaming down her cheeks, your let-down children, your devastated leadership team, your shocked congregation. ¬†Put yourself on the receiving end of the¬†awkward conversations that will take place for years and years after ‚Äď ‚ÄėWeren‚Äôt you the pastor there?¬† What happened?‚Äô. ¬†See yourself in the meeting where you’re sorting out custody for the kids because your marriage has imploded. ¬†Visualise the job interview you have to take because no church is going to employ a recently fallen pastor, and think about what you’re going to say¬†when they ask you what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years, and why you left the job you were in previously. ¬†Your passionate sermons, the powerful God-moments, every reason you got into ministry will be overshadowed by this event. ¬†This will be your legacy, what everyone remembers you for. ¬†Then ask yourself this… is it really worth it?

So hence, wise pastors put clear boundaries around their lives.¬† Someone once said that if you avoid even the appearance of evil, you tend to avoid the evil itself.¬† I think that‚Äôs pretty right on.¬† Good boundaries on how we relate to those of the opposite sex, how we deal with money, how we process decisions ‚Äď are important and necessary to last long term.

But having said this, I’ve come to realise that no amount of checks and balances, accountability relationships,¬†stated boundaries etc can change what’s in a person’s heart. ¬†I’ve seen plenty of leaders with all of these things in place… and they still fell. ¬†They got around the checks, and they didn’t tell the whole truth in the accountability sessions. ¬†Having these things in place is important, but none of it will ever make up for the ongoing decision that takes place in secret in a leader’s heart.

Pastor ‚Äď the only person in the world who can stop you from being a statistic… is you.

Responding Right When A Leader Falls

I think it‚Äôs the responsibility of the leadership in place in a local church to deal with a leader falling in the most transparent and honourable way possible.¬† Things shouldn‚Äôt be ‚Äėswept under the carpet‚Äô.¬† In my experience, people generally know when something isn‚Äôt right, and they always know when they‚Äôre not being told the whole truth.¬† If a leadership tries to hide things from people to ‚Äėprotect the congregation‚Äô or ‚Äėnot expose the leader‚Äô, what often ends up happening is that the leadership ends up taking a credibility hit, and the situation degenerates even further.¬† We have to speak the truth, and we have to do it love and with genuine concern for the people involved.

I‚Äôve also seen some crazy responses over the years to leaders falling.¬† Sometimes people go as far as burning books and resources from the person… as if now everything they‚Äôve ever said and done has been tainted by this one sin.¬† Others use the fallen leader as their ongoing excuse for why they‚Äôll never trust the church again, or the justification for pain that they‚Äôre holding on to that they won‚Äôt deal with and give to God.¬† I meet people who were under a pastor who fell 20 years ago, and they‚Äôre still holding that pastor responsible for their messed up life today.¬† We can‚Äôt stop other people from doing things that hurt us, but it‚Äôs totally our choice as to whether or not we hold on to that pain.

With all my heart, my prayer is that we will never have to see another leader fall because of hidden sin.  But as long as we have imperfect humans in leadership positions, I think unfortunately it’s going to be something that we have to continue to deal with.  Historically, the church hasn’t been very good at this, having the tendency to execute our wounded as opposed to resotring them back to health and wholeness.  As a result, the devil all too often gets the double victory of taking a gifted person out of ministry, as well as destroying their walk with God.  I’m not suggesting for a second that when a leader falls they should keep their role, but it’s also not about withdrawing from them and leaving them out in the cold either.  We need to maintain high standards of integrity and credibility in leadership.

Church isn‚Äôt another organisation, it‚Äôs a family.¬† Organisations get rid of people when they fail.¬† Families live with people when they fail.¬† We find our way forward through the mess, we deal with the issues, we talk things out.¬† Re-establishing broken trust and restoring a leader can a very long time ‚Äď often years.¬† But if we continue to reach out in love, and walk through the process, we‚Äôll get to the place where broken people are restored and stronger than they ever were before.¬† And what the devil intended to destroy us, God has turned around for victory.¬† ¬†¬†That sounds like God to me, and it sounds like the kind of church that I want to be a part of!

Assumptions

Today, I want to look at ‘assumptions’.

An assumption is defined as a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof.

Doing the Math

An assumption is almost the same as faith – being certain of something that you can’t see. ¬†But as humans, we tend to like assumptions¬†because they generally mean less work for us. ¬†If I can just take x for granted, then it means I can get on and focus on y. ¬†Rather than having to go to the effort of walking something out or doing effort in real life, ¬†we do the¬†math¬†in our heads¬†and decide ahead of time if we’ll win or lose.

Sometimes assumptions are really good and helpful, especially in situations where you just need to make a quick decision.  But other times Рwrong assumptions can bring all kinds of evil into our world.  Not only that Рbut acting on wrong assumptions can lead us to do things that are not worthy of us, and put us in positions that we would never have wanted to find ourselves in.

This is what happened to Abraham in Genesis 20:

Genesis 20
1  Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar,
2¬†¬†and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah,¬†“She is my sister.”¬†Then Abimelech king of Gerar¬†sent for Sarah and took her.
3¬†¬†But God came to Abimelech¬†in a dream one night¬†and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
4¬†¬†Now Abimelech had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?
5¬†¬†Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”
6¬†¬†Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.
7¬†¬†Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all yours will die.”
8  Early the next morning Abimelech summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid.
9¬†¬†Then Abimelech called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done.”
10¬†¬†And Abimelech asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”
11¬†¬†Abraham replied, “I said to myself,¬†‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’

Is God Here?

Abraham made an assumption.  He looked at the situation and said:

‘God is not in this place… it’s clear to me’.

Interesting isn’t it – because his¬†Abraham’s son, Isaac, was later to come to a certain place at night, when all was dark and he had a powerful encounter with the Lord – and then He said:

‘God is in this place – and I wasn’t even aware of it’

Both of them came to a place not expecting to find God, and yet in both situations they discovered that God was already at work.  How often do we make the ASSUMPTION that God is not there.  That there is NO FEAR OF GOD in this place?

For Abraham – that assumption had some dramatic consequences.

  • It caused him to act weird.
  • It caused him to end up lying.
  • He lost his credibility with Abimelech
  • He almost lost his wife

All because he walked into a situation and made an assumption that wasn’t true.

Assumptions Can Hold Us Captive

Sometimes the only thing that is holding us back from walking into all that God has promised us¬†is the jailhouse¬†of our mind. ¬†God calls us to do something – and we say ‘I’ve done the math¬†Lord… it won’t work’. ¬†Sometimes your assumptions based on your experience¬†is what’s holding you back.

This is what happened for the Israelites. ¬†In the well known chapter of¬†Numbers 13 – Moses sends spies out to look at the promised land. ¬†They come back – and they say ‘yeah it’s all good. ¬†all like God promised but the¬†only problem is… walled cities, and giants!’. ¬†Then they say ‘and we looked like grasshoppers in their eyes’. ¬†How did they know that? ¬†Did they have a conversation with the giants? ¬†Did they ask them to fill out this quick 4 question survey?

They made an assumption.  They had no idea what was going on, on the other side of the fence.

But the Bible tells us.  The stories of what was happening to the nation of Israel in the desert:

  • what had happened in¬†Egypt¬†as they left
  • the parting of the red sea
  • water flowing out of rocks
  • divine provision in the desert
  • their clothes not wearing out
  • powerful encounters with a living God

All these accounts were all getting reported to the kings who were living in the land Israel was about to possess.  They were freaking out.  One of the kings Balak, hires a guy called Balaam to try to use witchcraft and cursing against the Israelites.  But everytime Balaam tries to curse Israel Рonly blessing came out!  You can be assured that story made it around the kings fraternal meeting.

We read in Joshua 5:
1  Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.

The Israelites had wandered around in the desert for 40 years and part of the reason for that is that they were held captive by a wrong assumption.  They thought the giants were waiting for them to cross so that they could beat them to a pulp.  They had no idea that the giants spent those 40 years packing themselves about the day that Israel would finally wake up to the power they had!

The story is told of the master escape artist Harry Houdini. ¬†On one of his European tours, he had himself handcuffed and shut in a Scottish town jail. ¬†Once alone, Houdini quickly got out of the shackles, and started to work on the lock on the cell door. ¬†He tried everything he knew but he couldn’t get the lock to turn. ¬†Finally, completely, exhausted… he leaned against the door… and it swung open so unexpectedly he nearly fell headlong into the corridor. ¬†The jailer hadn’t locked it. ¬†Houdini made an assumption!

Like A Little Child

Jesus said – if you want to get into the kingdom of heaven, you’ve got to become like a little child. ¬†Little kids trust implicitly. ¬†They don’t do the math, because they don’t have the experience. ¬†They TRY THINGS.

There’s¬†sick people in our world that God wants to heal, but they’re surrounded by Christians doing the maths, rather than taking the action.

There’s¬†doors of breakthrough that God has placed in your life today – but we too often don’t¬†walk through them because you’re we’re¬†the maths rather than taking the action.

There’s people who are waiting to get saved, but the Christians are doing the maths, instead of taking the action.

Abraham says ‘God is NOT in this place… it’s clear to me’. ¬†But yet God was. ¬†Isaac says ‘God was in this place – and I wasn’t even aware of it’.

Which one is it for you?

Is God not in this place because of what you’ve seen and experienced? ¬†Or is God in this place – and you weren’t even aware of it?

Is God not in your workplace because of what you’ve seen and experienced thus far? ¬†They don’t fear God, they don’t care about Him. ¬†Or is God already at work in your workplace… and you haven’t even been aware of it?

Is God not in your family… because they rail against your faith and mock you for what you believe? ¬†Or is God already at work in your family – and you weren’t even aware of it?

Hanging On For The Win

Life is often about making tough¬†sacrifices¬†today because we’re looking forward to a better tomorrow.

Whether it’s holding back on eating that chocolate cake because you’re going for a weight goal, putting those night hours into a course to¬†get you out of a dead-end job, or even putting up with less-than-perfect conditions in a group or team because you’re wanting the final win more than your temporary comfort. ¬†We’ll never see greatness tomorrow without some kind of sacrifice today.

But I have to say, one of the most tragic things I see is people who pay great prices, and then pull out too soon Рbefore they get the breakthrough.  They go through a season of pain for nothing.

I was struck by this thought this morning when I read this verse:

“Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai” – Numbers 26:64

Through¬†Joshua, God parcelled¬†out parts of the Promised Land to the Israelites. ¬†They’ve made it. ¬† This is reward day. ¬†They’re now¬†receiving the reward of their faith. ¬†Yet with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, an entire generation – thousands upon thousands of people – missed that moment. ¬†They’d been through seasons with no water, with no food, they’d been attacked and set upon… they’d endured hardships and pain… and for¬†NOTHING. ¬†They didn’t get¬†what was promised because they gave up.

The thought of that makes me seriously want to stick in the journey through hardship! ¬†I mean, if you’re going to go through the pain and suffering in life, if you’re going to make sacrifices and live a fasted life… then at least make sure you stick it out to the end to get the reward!

Paul gives us this encouragement:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” – Galatians 6:9

God is preparing your life for wins. ¬†He’s got a Promised Land ready to carve up for you, and He wants you to be there on the day He hands it out! ¬†Don’t let¬†difficulties, doubt or discouragement rob you of the reward you’ve already¬†given so much for. ¬†Hold in there¬†and don’t give up… the prize is totally worth it!

The Key To Becoming Prophetic

“Then the LORD said, ‚ÄúShall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” ¬†– Genesis 18:17

 

There was nothing seemingly special about Abraham.  His claim to fame was that he simply believed God.  When God spoke, Abraham listened and obeyed.

This simple obedience proved to be the key for Abraham increasing in his ability to know what God was going to do next. ¬†A person with faith is a God-magnet, and so supernatural activities began to occur around Abraham’s life.

But the key is a very simple one – have faith in, and obey what God has already shown you. ¬†Many people want to grow in prophetic power to know what God is saying about the future, or to have supernatural experiences with Him. ¬†But God won’t necessarily bring greater words to those who haven’t listened or responded to his smaller words.

Training in the prophetic starts with obeying the small promptings of the Holy Spirit. ¬†To believe God for something impossible, to turn away from a particular sin, to share a seemingly insignificant word with someone. ¬†Abraham had become so good at believing God, so reliable at walking out what God wanted… that God said to Himself… “can I really hide from Abraham what I’m going to do next?”.

As we learn to be faithful with the little things… this same question will grow in God’s heart towards us too.

In His Image

“When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God…..‚ÄĮWhen Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image…”- Genesis 3:1-3

When Adam and Eve were first created, they were made in the likeness of God Рformed in His image.  Perfect and powerful, every part of them Рbody, soul and spirit Рreplicated the glory of their Creator.

But sin entered the human race, and like a disease it infected not only Adam and Eve, but their offspring as well. ¬†So it’s noted here that the sons of Adam were born ‘in [Adam’s] likeness’, not in the likeness of God. ¬†Sin had contaminated mankind, and every generation of people since that time has lived with the consequences of Adam & Eve’s decision .

There’s a couple of things I take from this:

1) We must be born again. ¬†Perhaps you’ve seen a photocopy of a photocopy? ¬†With each generation the quality decreases. ¬†It’s a lot like that with the human race. ¬†In order to walk in the fullness of who we’ve been made to be, we must be born again – a Photoshop touch up is not enough – we need a complete regeneration. ¬†This is what Paul talks about when he describes us as ‘a new creation in Christ’. ¬†The moment we confess our sins to God, and hand the keys of our lives over to Him, we are born again by the Spirit of God. ¬†It’s a whole new page, a clean sheet to start from.

2) As leaders, we must be committed to forming people into Christ’s image, not ours.¬† Even the best, most inspirational leader is still only a reflection of who God is. ¬†Every person has been uniquely made, and our responsibility as leaders is not to make people like us, but to make them like Jesus. ¬†Paul said “I am in labour until Christ is formed in you”. ¬†He wasn’t looking to make a bunch of Paul-clones, but rather like a great father – he was seeking wisdom from above as to how to encourage and form his ‘children’ into the shape that God had called them to be.