10 thoughts that are changing my life

Manning_smAs a teenager my mum strongly encouraged me to read a book by the now late Brennan Manning, It was a book called The Ragamuffin Gospel. As a 15 year old I had no interest in anything my mum had to say, but to encourage me to actually read a book? HA! What teenager does that?

However, several months ago (14 years later) I came across this book, somehow it had appeared in my bookshelf at work. I pulled it off the shelf and began to read, since then I have just read everything I can find from its author Brennan Manning.The shift that is taking place in my life at the moment I can place down to God using this man and his words to change me. So I wanted to share with you just 10 quotes from a few of his books that are changing my heart and life.

1. How I treat a brother or sister from day to day, how I react to the sin-scarred wino on the street, how I respond to interruptions from people I dislike, how I deal with normal people in their normal confusion on a normal day may be a better indication of my reverence for life than the antiabortion sticker on the bumper of my car. ~Ragamuffin Gospel

2. Only reckless confidence in a Source greater than ourselves can empower us to forgive the wounds inflicted by others. ~Abba’s Child

3. When a man or woman is truly honest, it is virtually impossible to insult them personally. ~Ragamuffin Gospel

4. We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that he should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at his love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground. ~Ragamuffin Gospel

5. Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion. ~ Abba’s Child

6. The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.~Ragamuffin Gospel (popularized by the 1995 dc Talk track “What if I stumble?”)

7. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve. ~Abba’s Child

8. The story goes that a public sinner was excommunicated and forbidden entry to the church. He took his woes to God. “They won’t let me in, Lord, because I am a sinner.” “What are you complaining about?” said God. “They won’t let me in either.” ~Ragamuffin Gospel

9. Because salvation is by grace through faith, I believe that among the countless number of people standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands (see Revelation 7:9), I shall see the prostitute from the Kit-Kat Ranch in Carson City, Nevada, who tearfully told me that she could find no other employment to support her two-year-old son. I shall see the woman who had an abortion and is haunted by guilt and remorse but did the best she could faced with grueling alternatives; the businessman besieged with debt who sold his integrity in a series of desperate transactions; the insecure clergyman addicted to being liked, who never challenged his people from the pulpit and longed for unconditional love; the sexually abused teen molested by his father and now selling his body on the street, who, as he falls asleep each night after his last “trick”, whispers the name of the unknown God he learned about in Sunday school.

“But how?” we ask.

Then the voice says, “They have washed their robes and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” There they are. There we are – the multitude who so wanted to be faithful, who at times got defeated, soiled by life, and bested by trials, wearing the bloodied garments of life’s tribulations, but through it all clung to faith. My friends, if this is not good news to you, you have never understood the gospel of grace.” ~Ragamuffin Gospel

10. I have been seized by the power of a great affection. ~Ragamuffin Gospel

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What about for you? What are some of the thoughts, quotes from books, things in sermons, thoughts mulling in your mind that are changing you for the better? I’d love to hear them.

What are you going to do with the life that you have left?

540722_483809528339438_1833240444_nLast night I sat listening to Andrew Newbold Lead Pastor of Freedom Revolution Church in Doncaster. He was sharing at the launch of our new Young Adults gatherings. As he spoke he opened up with this question:

What are you going to do with the life that you have left?

Life is all about decisions, we make thousands of these every single day. Some are as simple as to whether we’ll have a shower before work? (I suggest you do) what we’ll do for lunch? Right through to will we marry that person? Will we accept that job offer interstate? Life is all about decisions! We make our decisions, and our decisions make us.

Andrew shared with us 5 key things to do when making decisions.

1) Try to never make important decisions when your tired, drained or being unreasonably pressured.

2) Know your Options (get all the information you can)

3) You actually need to make a decision.

4) Good decisions have a time limit.

5) Decisions are the pathway to your destiny.

Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
(Psalm 25:8-12 ESV)

God says, “Ill show you, the path but first humble yourself.” Our prayer should be “God, Show me the path!” If you want his results, you’ve gotta live his way.

But what about if God is silent in the decision making process?

gps-unit-lgeWe can often perceive the silence of God as us heading in the wrong way? But have you ever used a GPS when driving to Sydney or Adelaide? The first 20-40minutes their is constant instructions from your GPS telling you to turn right here, left here. However, once you get on the freeway for a long time their is nothing. Does that mean you are heading the wrong way?

Absolutely not, rather its the complete opposite, because you are heading the right way on the correct road their is no reason for the GPS to speak. The same could be true in our relationship and communications with God, perhaps the silence could actually mean that I’m heading in the right direction and their is no need for further instruction until a change needs to be made.

Luke 22:42 says “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Rather than praying for God to endorse your decision on a destiny decision (like marriage, which job offer you’ll take, or if you’ll move overseas) Set aside what you want… Not my will, but yours be done!c Remember, Gods will for your life is always the best thing for your life!

Get out of Your Camp

We can get so familiar with our own little world can’t we? It’s actually easier to do than we care to admit. Not only do we do this in life (whole new blog if we talk about that) but we do this in our own leadership and ministry development. We go to the same type of conference, with the same type of leaders and communicators, reading books from those in the same stream continuing on to share insights of people from that streams point of view.  Now this isn’t wrong, bad or sinful to do, but it is limiting.

The Law of Exposure tells us that our minds think about what it is most exposed too. This law states, what you expose yourself to dramatically shapes how you think, feel and act. Applying the Law of Exposure proactively takes deliberate action daily. It is a moment to moment conscious choice. Take this into our ministry context, if all we ever do is expose our hearts, minds, church systems and even life to the same thing we are already locking ourselves to and limiting our understanding of God, about how the church should look and how the gospel can be lived. think_different__by_longlong240-d4q42e4

I recently sat through a conference with a well known international speaker. I’ve followed this person’s ministry loosely over that time. As I sat listening to him I found myself agreeing with some and disagreeing with other points. In those moments where I felt he was “wrong” (whatever that even means haha probably a better word is different) I felt the urge of God’s spirit challenge me through this speaker to cause me to really process and reflect on that ideas he was teaching on.

Just because an idea or concept is out of your ministry paradigm doesn’t make it wrong. Rather let it challenge you and cause you to really process and see where God may be at work in the concept and in your life.

Go to that conference that is totally out of your denominational stream and emphasis. Read a book from that Calvinist that might drive you crazy. Listen to worship albums that don’t suit your musical ‘fit.’ Do things that intentionally help challenge your belief systems, cause your to look closer at your ministry ideologies. Now, I’m not saying go do things that are contrary to the laws of God or the promptings of his spirit, rather

I’m just encouraging you to expand your view and understanding of God might be doing.

Can’t wait to hear what happens in your life as you do this.

10 Tips for Christian Leaders Who Don’t Want To Become Self Promoting Jerks Online

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2 weeks ago I was hit for 6 (cricket terminology) by a post by my friend Mark Sayers. For many years (as early as the early 2001) I’ve had the pleasure of Mark speaking into my life as a college student (Tabor), in ministry settings and also over a few coffees.

However, when I read this blog post it challenged me to the core, and poked around in areas of my heart and motivation. I hope it does the same for you. So here it is, using  “Cntrl C, Cntrl V” I share with you his post.  

Social Networking can be a fabulous tool for leaders to advance the kingdom. However like so many other things it can also lead us into dangerous territory if unexamined.

Below are some tips on how to use social networking well in our celebrity obsessed, image based culture without falling into the sin of pride. I have probably broken several at times, but hopefully they will be of help to you.

1) Avoid being a fame-vampire

Just because you had coffee with someone well known doesn’t mean that you have to tweet about it. We tend to do this because sub-consciously believe that if we broadcast the fact that we are associating with someone well known, that their fame/influence will rub off on us.

Would you be willing to tweet that you just met with a person who had no influence or social capital?

2) Don’t add to the Hubbub

We live in a culture of incredible distraction. Just because we can broadcast to thousands the first thought that comes into our head doesn’t mean that we have to. Just communicate the important stuff.

By refraining from the cacophony you just might give others space and silence. Is your broadcasting of the mundane robbing others of the silence they need to encounter God?

3) Real life Followers>Online followers

4) Platform never beats spiritual authority

Lot of people talk about platform these days. Platform sells books, generates hits and followers and results in speaking requests. However platform doesn’t always equate with spiritual authority.

You can have a massive platform with little spiritual authority, and you can have significant spiritual authority and a terrible Klout score.

5) Promote resources not yourself

Beware the thin line between selling books, resources, events, Churches, others you wish to champion, ministries you believe in and selling yourself.

Do your social networking patterns push people towards resources that will build up their faiths, or are you allowing some of the glory to bounce off onto you?

6) Avoid humblebrags

Don’t ever use the hashtag #humbled. My friend Amy said to me the other day that if someone uses the hashtag #humbled there is a 90% chance they are bragging.

We know deep down that social networking naturally tilts towards self promotion, so we try and self promote whilst trying to be humble, check out the humblebrag feed on twitter to see why this approach doesn’t work.

7) Ask the dangerous question ‘why?’

Before posting always ask yourself ‘why am I posting this instagram pic/tweet/status update?’ Deeply search your heart for your true motivations. If you struggle with this find a social networking accountability buddy who will ask you the tough questions.

8) Take breaks

Take regular technology sabbaths. This is one of the best ways to ensure that you keep social networking as a tool rather than an idol.

9) Be Patient with God

God will advance your ministry if he so desires in His good time. Just because we live in a time where it is easy to push our own carts does not mean that we need to. Both the bible and history is littered with the tragic tales of people whose influence exceeded their spiritual development.

10) Track your time

Keep a track of how much time you are devoting to social networking. Not just in real minutes and hours but also in mental energy. Do you find yourself thinking about what you could say online when you are even off line? Are you robbing your family, friends and neighbours of your complete presence and attention? Sit down and plan how much time you wish to spend a week online and stick to it.

Thanks for these great bits of advice Mark. Noted.

Uber have their annual conference in several weeks which Mark will be speaking at. I encourage you to get along. I will be going.

Is my team being effective?

pg2_2002patriots_576_display_imageIn one of the greatest Super Bowl shockers of all time, in 2002, the New England Patriots topped the St. Louis Rams 20-17. As defending champions, the Rams entered the game as the heavy favorite to win. Bookies listed New England as underdogs heading into the game. In fact, in the Super Bowl’s 40+ year history, only two other contests were predicted to be as lopsided as this match up.

My personal highlight of the Patriots’ upset win occurred before the game even started when the teams took the field. As the pre-game excitement built, the starters of the St. Louis Rams were introduced individually. One by one the Rams’ players strutted onto the field for a moment of personal glory—each player’s face prominently displayed on the stadium’s jumbo screens.

Minutes later, in an unprecedented statement of togetherness, the Patriots broke with years of NFL tradition by choosing to enter the field as a team.

The PA announcer simply introduced them as “The New England Patriots,” and the entire team, both starters and backups, raced onto the field as one.

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08/28/09Bill Belichick (Patriots Head coach that year) had ingrained the value of teamwork into his squad. The Patriots may not have had an the same level of talent as the all-star players for the Rams, but their effectiveness as a team carried them to the title. As leaders we need to make sure we are effective leaders. This will enable us to lead effective teams.

What we can achieve will be much greater than just me.

1) An effective team sees the big picture.

“In an effective team, each team member understands the context of the team’s work to the greatest degree possible. That includes understanding the relevance of his or her job and how it impacts the effectiveness of others and the overall team effort.” John Maxwell

As demonstrated by their Super Bowl entrance, the Patriots dignified each player for his contributions to the team’s overall performance. Substitutes and role players were equally given credit for the team’s victories. No role is more important than another. We see the apostle Paul teach this to the church in Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12: 18 – 24.

2) An effective team has common goals.

The Patriots were bonded by a shared pursuit of football’s ultimate prize. Players did not get caught up trying to accumulate personal statistics or achieve individual honors. They were of one mind in their goal of being the top team.

Question: In your team, What are the common goals we are working towards?

I’ve seen all to often seen people want their “calling/gifting/ministry” recognized by the church (both local and abroad.) However, more importantly than being ‘recognized’ by the church (God has already recognized us), it’s more important that we have the teams goals and our obedience to God as a higher importance.

3) An effective team works collaboratively.

In an effective team you’ll notice a preference for collaboration and a keen awareness of interdependency. Continuing on using the American football analogy, for the quarterback to complete a pass, the wide receiver has to run the correct route, and the linemen have to block the defenders. Each play requires teamwork.

What I can do as an individual is limited to only me, however with others in the mix, much more is possible.

4) An effective team has long haul mindset.

What separates great sports and great “one offs” is that a great team stays together. The average stay of a Youth Pastor in their role is 8-12 months. The average! We shouldn’t wonder why so many youth ministries are constantly in the “rebuilding” stages. If our church is going to be a great church, the foundational pillars/leaders must stay in place.

249263-hillsong-pastor-brian-houston-wins-convertsSeveral years ago I attend a Hillsong Conference in Sydney. At this session Brian Houston was interviewing his key staff team. As a closing question he asked his team to share how long they’d been on staff at the church. of the key 7-8 leaders he had sharing the person serving the least amount of time was 10 years, the longest over 20. It was in the moment I was reminded once again that God wants me to be someone who 1) Obeys him and follows him but 2) sticks around for the long haul, not just be a ‘flash in the pan’ leader.

What changes must be made that you can recognize that need to be made in you life to be an effective leader/Christian? Identify two, and then set achievable landmarks to accomplishing these.

Your Life Matters!