Remember that God is the source of all that we need. I wrote this down the other day to remind me of my journey.
With eternity in mind,
For an audience of one.
There are many things that compete for our focus in life and at times we need to give them due attention, but we should never lose the bigger picture.
We can live forever, but only when we respond to the call of Christ to follow Him (Matt 16:24). This call results in a relationship with the Creator of the Universe and puts us in touch with eternity.
I’m reminded that I am just one man, while there are many things I can see that need to be done I am aware that I haven’t been asked to do them all. In “Velvet Elvis” by Rob Bell, he came to a realisation that “Your job is the relentless pursuit of who God has made you to be. And anything else is sin and you need to repent of it.” (page 114) How do we pursue that person God made us to be?
Remember God loves you just the way you are. But he refuses to leave you that way; He wants you to be just like Jesus.
I need to reflect Christ as best I can while still being me. How do I reflect Him? By focusing on him. Where we look often determines where we go. Works every time I drive!
Shalom. Remember to obey all that He has commanded you to do.
This can seem like a big burden when we consider the list of decrees and regulations and commandments outlines through Scripture.
It was the basis for questions Jesus was asked a number of times and the answer given has shaped and formed much of our society over the ensuing 2000 odd years, but resonated with every culture and peoples around the world. Prior to the embracing of Christianity, much of ancient culture was underlined with an understanding of capricious gods and fickle deities who demanded worship and would retaliate at the merest slight they felt was directed at them. Israel was quite unique, though not exclusive, in the worship of a largely caring and loving God who would look after and defend his people. Jesus took this further and John summed it up in John 3: 16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
This is still a radical concept! Our challenge is that having lived with a foundation of our society being based on these Christian values and morals we have taken for granted the radical nature and extreme departure from much of the self centredness that drove humanity for millenia. We have at times failed to recognise that if we stray too far from the basis and calling of this we could see our society return to more self-centred and polarising behaviours as we swing between extremes. Our national approach during Covid and beyond of being kind to each other is a great example of a Christ centred value and I’m encouraged how widely we have and still embraced this.
At it’s centre the gospel commandment is summed up in the greatest commandment, which is actually two conjoined, inseperable dynamics that when fused together create a kind, generous, safe and creative society.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, the second is like it, love your neighbour as yourself…’
If we can remember to obey this before we obey other things we will grasp the essence of Christ like behaviour.
I hope you enjoy the outworking of this over the coming days, weeks and months.
Shalom. Let God show you where you need to change and listen
As I look back over my time as a follower of Jesus and including my time in pastoral service (I’ll be celebrating 25 years in pastoral ministry on June 15th) I can’t help but think that maybe I’ve spent too much time running programs and building church structure (which seems oxymoronic from me if you know me at all) than making disciples.
Now this doesn’t mean I’ve not seen people grow as disciples or embrace the call that God has on their life. Every year I’ve been in ministry I’ve seen baptisms (not as many as I’d hope for) I’ve seen people embrace faith and step out into new challenges, but it seems to me that much of my role has revolved around ecclesial management, and rightly so to a degree. As a pastor it is my responsibility to ensure that a church has good pastoral leadership. But even deeper than that my role has responsibility , to quote Ephesians 4 12 …” to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”
As a father helps raise his children and in the process of raising them, grows himself, so too is a Pastors role.
Each of us is at differing points in our relationship with Jesus, and often that’s the first thing to ensure, that you are in a relationship. Nobody needs to be directed in their faith journey exactly the same as everybody else. Whilst we will have similarities and broadly comparable issues, each of us is unique and must learn how to discern and know the will and purpose of God for each of us and be humble enough to be in a family of believers and have a role to play in that family (it’s called church people).
This is what unity looks like – that in the midst of diversity, differing opinions and expectations, styles and desires, we still choose to put Jesus and others first; that we continually remind ourselves it’s not about me, it’s about Jesus in me and others. Also, that we continually ask how can we build on the foundation we’ve inherited in such a way that it leaves a good foundation for the ones who follow.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3… “7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. 9 For we are both God’s workers. And you are God’s field. You are God’s building.
10 Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.”
A field is simply a provision, a place, a blank canvas upon which God may create something, build something, build someone, someone like us.
We can only be successful, only have expertise, when we do it with an undergirding of grace, understanding it’s not our task alone, but others must be involved.
As a father I’m acutely aware that children need role models. Hopefully for my lads, I’m one of them, but I’d be stupid to think I’m the only one. They need multiple role models and part of my role is to encourage them to find good ones, because find them they will and many that the world offer are pretty hopeless, but the pressure is strong to embrace them. A parent needs men and women who will help them to raise their kids, they need men and women who will help them to show them good Christian relationships that grapple with the authentic and real issues of life.
They, like I, need the church. I also, with the deepest of humility realise that as much as I need the church, for better or worse, the church needs me too and further the church needs you, not simply for what you can do, but for who you can be.
I hope and pray that over this week you realise more and more who and what you are in his kingdom.