Monday, November 28, 2011

One Thing

A great message from one of my favorite Churches, Edge Church in Adelaide.

The man said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? I have kept the commandments since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” - Mark 10:17, 20-21.

There is a drive in our humanity for wholeness and completeness. It’s the feeling of dissatisfaction and desire that keeps us looking for a new solution, a new answer to our problems. Some people will buy the latest fun gadget and be entertained by it for a while, but it's just a temporary remedy. Some people will hear a song and emotionally respond to it, and for a while the feelings of the song will satisfy that urge for completeness. But temporary solutions don’t stop the gnawing in their soul.

The man in this story felt that drive and desperately sought Jesus to ask him about it. Jesus' response went straight to the heart of the issue and shocked the man. After all, this man was perfect. He kept Israel's holy commandments. He was an upstanding member of the community, a role model for society. Even in the wild times of his youth he had obeyed the commandments. But Jesus identified the ‘one thing’ that was missing in this man’s life. And without mincing His words Jesus told the man to give his wealth to poor people and then follow Him.

The man had been living a perfect, holy life according to all standards, but his entire focus was on himself. The one thing he lacked was not something that he could buy or own. Instead, he had to put his attention on other people. Instead of being righteous for himself and expecting God to be generous and merciful to him, he had to be righteous towards others and be generous and merciful to them. And then, instead of following his own desires and whims, he had to follow Jesus. Jesus' message is the same for us. Our pursuit of God must be expressed in our outward focus, being generous and merciful to those in need.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Aim for the Stars

I once heard a statement I’ve never forgotten and always attempted to live by, Aim for the stars hit the treetops aim for the treetops hit the ground. In Philippians 3:14 The apostle Paul said something similar, also something I’ve attempted to live by. He said “reaching forward to those things which are before me, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
When the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when all the reward is taken away, no one will try or want to succeed. I recently came across this story that illustrates it so well.
An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that the best world to live in was a world where no one would be poor and no one would be rich, this would be a great equaliser they thought.

The professor said, "OK then, lets have an experiment in this class on that plan". All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A.... substituting grades for dollars - something closer to home and more readily understood by all.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that their well meaning idea would also ultimately fail them because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when all the reward is taken away, no one will try or want to succeed. It could not be any simpler than that. Aim for the stars.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The leadership factor

Ive been thinking about leadership lately, here are some of my thoughts, some of the factors that go into making great leaders.

1 The self factor – Self leadership, how you manage your personal world

2 The team factor - leadership must maintain and manage a team culture.

3 The effect factor - leadership has an effect. It must produce something, change something for the better. Leadership produces outcomes.

4 The Talent factor – Leadership harnesses and understands the strength and weaknesses of its potential or gift set and helps others do the same.

5 The Communication factor - your speech affects everything you're trying to achieve, you must say it and display it clearly.

6 The Conflict factor – how conflict is resolved, kills or gives longevity to all potential

7 The Influence factor – Leadership IS influence, we persuade others by our preaching conversation, actions and integrity.

8 The People factor – if influence doesn’t affect people it's not leadership at all, people must always be the reason we do what we do.

9 The diversity factor – Embracing diversity, everyone will differ in gifting and gifting develops constantly, manage this change and growth.

10 The Creativity & Innovation factor – the gifts you do have are from heaven, designed by God to enrich the Kingdom not yours to use simply for personal gain.

11 The R factor – Resilience, leadership is for life, Relationships are the fuel & Respect releases its strength

12 The fire factor - Releasing the fire, maintaining PASSION, stir up the gift

13 The Revelation factor - Rhema in Ephesians 6 is the weapon we use, the revealed word of God, alive in you.

14 The Risk factor – Gideon had to go from hiding, to doing something that would have national significance. Leadership is always about risk.

15 The opinion factor – crafting or shaping your point of view. Paul said that we all think the same thing

16 The rapport factor - Building rapport is affecting people deeply.

17 The emotion factor - Maintain composure at all times, present yourself in a way that builds confidence in others.

18 The Openness factor – always look for feedback , love it and seek it out

19 The surrender factor - Let go, surrender to God daily

20 The Calling factor – You will never last in any form of leadership until you know it’s what you're supposed to do, not just what you want to do.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Grace is free, never cheap.

Jesus loved people, He didn’t patronise them. One of the greatest acts of love is to lead people to truth not just tranquility, to assist them to change not stay the way they are. Change in people is not just an act of the Holy Spirit, it's the highest calling of the Gospel. Jesus said "make disciples" (Learners) The first thing Peter said after Pentecost was repent (change your moral stance) and then you will receive the Holy Spirit. Always remember it's only truth that sets people free! It's my belief that grace is not a license to live in our old nature "anyway we want" but a doorway out of the prison of sin, and a pathway into the freedom of abundant life. Our love must always have as an outcome to see people live in the potential of their salvation not bound by the limits of their life. Jesus not only said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, "I don't condem you" he also said "Go and sin no more!" The first is only beautiful in light of the latter.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Birthday Story

Cool birthday story ... I was at the Coffee Club with Ali on my birthday when a very vocal group at the top of their voices began 2 sing Happy Birthday 2 U...I said to Alison oh thank you very much, pretending they where singing to it 2 me. Imagine my surprise when they finished the song by singing HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR ASHLEY HAPPY BIRTHDAY 2 U...What's the chances of that!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I think we all understand and would love to live out the principles of Generosity, yet struggle to live within the challenge of the demands it makes on our lives at times. Luke 9 tells the story of feeding 5000 people. This story demonstrates the principle of generosity and graphically displays its power. These people had come a long way to hear Jesus speak. He had been ministering all day so the disciples insist that Jesus send the people away to give them an opportunity to get something to eat. But in response Jesus simply suggests that they come up with the food to feed so many people. Now I’m sure their response would have been, "how in the world…... " and right about then a little boy offers 2 fish and 5 small buns. So they take it to Jesus and say this is all we have. Without hesitation Jesus blessed it, broke it, and put it into the disciple’s hands. Jesus gave back to them, what they gave to Him. Now the pressure would have been on for them to only give a small amount. The limited resource they had in their hand had to go so far, so imagine the disciples' amazement when the bread grew in their hands as they gave it out. The miracle did not happen in Jesus' hands, it happens in the disciples' hands. It’s all about what you do with what He gives you. That’s what we miss all the time, we want Jesus to do it. We want Jesus to multiply our seed but He says plant it first, because it only grows when we give it. What if the disciples had just given it out without giving it to JESUS first? It wouldn’t have multiplied!

If you don’t give what’s in your hand to God your finance will never be blessed. This is the principle demonstrated throughout God's word. There is more spoken of concerning money and its use than of most principles in the Bible. Why is that? Because where your treasure is there will your heart be also. A Christian is made to be generous; it’s the way we work best. We are born selfish but born again generous. When we are not generous we are not being who we are born again to be and missing the blessing we should be living in. Right throughout scripture, that’s the pattern. God is always looking for people He can trust with blessing. Someone He can trust with what He gives them. People who become a channel of blessing who’ll live their life as a conduit for favor. Many of us never live in this zone, we don’t take this powerful principle seriously so we are not living in that place to be blessed by God. Giving is the only thing God said to test Him in. But so many have never put God to this test. Ever had those moments when God says give, we struggle to surrender? Most people rationalise those moments away and sear their conscience when it comes to giving. This causes us to spiral down into a place of lack. You know, God's thinking more about your future than you are. Listen, God knows your address, He knows where to find you, and He wants to bless you more than you want to be blessed. The point is, we are God's children and there is a principle in God’s Word called Generosity - and when we are generous, the Bible says, the generous soul will be made rich. God said to Solomon, ask anything you want. What an amazing promise. This promise was made the day he became King. On this day tradition dictated that the incoming king would sacrifice one Bull as a token offering. Solomon gave 1000 bulls instead of one. In response God promised him, that whatever he asked, God would give him. God responds to extravagant givers. But God’s not going to say that, unless you learn the power of generosity, if God can’t trust you with what you do have, he wont trust you with what you don’t have. The scriptures encourages us with this… "well done you’ve been faithful with little now I will make you lord over much".