Church for the Duckless

Earlier today on my Facebook, I posted this Judah Smith quote which is an excerpt from his Jesus Is Book.

I am advocating a church that reflects real life, a church where people with real problems can come and find hope and joy. I want people in my church to welcome everybody. The gay, the straight, the rich, the poor, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I want my church to be a place where people can come in from all kinds of backgrounds and issues and shortcomings and addictions and bondages, and we don’t have to get them all fixed up before they sit on the front row.
That’s the gospel. It’s good news for everyone. Its not good news just for people who are already good, for those who are self- controlled and disciplined enough to have all their ducks in a row. It’s good news for the people who can’t even find their ducks. They haven’t seen some of their ducks in years. Their lives are a mess. But they can come to Jesus and find instant acceptance. They belong long before they believe and long before they behave.

This thought (Thanks Judah) was met with a flood of comments and likes. Honestly, not many Christians would disagree with such words. The current reality of many churches (for whatever reason) doesn’t always as a whole community reflect this being an accurate reality.

As I’ve reflected and meditated on this the past few days I began dreaming of how incredible it would be to actually be apart of a church that fully preached the gospel, believed the gospel, embodied the gospel and live the gospel.

Rather than idealise or look to the ‘greener’ grass on the other side, I’ve committed in my spirit to ‘green up the grass beneath me.’ To put it another way, rather than wait for someone or somewhere else to be this, I’ve decided to be this for myself. Change begins with me, not finger pointing at others.

Will you join with me in this? Maybe you were one of those who liked or commented on Facebook (Thanks), but let’s not just be ‘likers’ of the word, as James instructs us in James 1:22 “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

Lets be the church for the Duckless.

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Skip to the good bit

If you are anything like me, you tend to skip the greetings in the epistles to get to ‘the good bit’. However, if you do that in Ephesians you miss an incredibly important truth. Paul refers to everyone in the church as ‘Saints… in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 1:1-2). When we hear the terminology of saint (which isn’t used by accident) we often think of people like Mother Teresa in India or for me personally in conjures up images of catholic saints. Sainthood isn’t about things you have done or achieved, being a saint requires one step: Be in Christ. Many teens & 20’s I meet with do not believe they are redeemed image bearers of Christ and Saints. They instead believe they are sinners defined by their sin.

Sin may explain some of your activity, but not your identity. saints and sinners

Acknowledgement of your sin, confession & repentance is an important part of our faith journey. It however doesn’t define you. Your identity is in Christ, and because of this and by God’s grace, and in the spirits power you can change your activity.

I think everyone has regrets and to a degree feels remorse. The older I get and my relationship with Christ matures I see the reality of my sinfulness more clearly & grieve it more deeply. The Apostle Paul himself in 1 Timothy 1:15 he refers to himself as the “chief” of sinners.  Remorse can be a good thing, as God by his spirit convicts us of sin it calls us to repentance and to live in the freedom that can only be found in Jesus. What can happen really easy is our conviction moves to condemnation.

Conviction… Condemnation…
Is from God Is from Satan
Leads to life Leads to despair
Ends in joy Ends in sorrow
Makes us want to change Makes us believe we can’t change
Leads to new identity in Christ Leads to old identity in Sin
Brings specific awareness of sin Brings vague uncertainty about sin
Looks to Jesus Looks to Self
Is a Blessing Is a Burden

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

As saints we are tempted to sin, just as Jesus was. But we are not obliged to sinfully respond to temptation. Temptation isn’t sin.  They are two very different things. To be tempted is to be presented with an opportunity to either sin against God or worship God. Being tempted doesn’t make you guilty of sin after all Jesus was sinless and yet was tempted and we see this recoded in Matthew 4.

 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

When you are tempted to entertain and act out in sin, remember that in Christ you are a saint, knowing your identity in Christ is the key. In Christ there is forgiveness of sin!

What I learnt from The Voice

073484-michael-paynterLast night I was glued to my television screen as I watched my friend Michael Paynter sing on Australia’s version of The Voice. I’ve known Mike for about 10 years, after first meeting him when we were both starting out in the music industry, him as an artist, me as a radio announcer and publicist. Once I saw Michael was going to be on the show I knew he would put on a fantastic vocal performance and that he’d amaze the coaches with his ability. (Honestly, how this guy isn’t one of the biggest things in music still confuses me!) But what got my attention and if you saw the show live or have since watched it online later was something even more that captured the judges and a legion of fans and media types since then. It was Michael’s genuine humility. The most challenging and also inspiring line Mike said last night was “I’d rather that (humility) shine more than my voice any day.

You are not born with humility, your learn it.

photoThe dictionary defines humility as having a “low view of one’s own importance.” But humilitas, the Latin root of the word, means “to lower yourself,” as Macquarie University Professor John Dickson notes in his excellent book Humilitas: A Lost Key to Life, Love and Leadership.

As he explores the origins of humility—which he says was first used in Roman culture during the second and fifth centuries AD—he defines it as “the noble choice to forgo your status, deploy your resources or use your influence for the good of others before yourself.” Dickson’s definition of humility goes miles deeper than our culture’s comparatively crude use of the world.

True humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s not being outwardly humble, while harboring pride. And it’s not being weak. True humility is service to others, service to a cause greater than your own personal ambition.

How do you personally define humility? And how would it look in your life everyday as you lived it out?

To see Mike’s performance from last night click here.

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.

The Toughest Leadership Challenge

If their was every going to be anything that would get in the way of all God wanted to do through your leadership what would it be? The Devil? A difficult church member? Council blocking your permit? Or could it be something much closer to you than you ever thought?

I’ve learnt in my life that the greatest challenge to my leadership fruitfulness is ME.

courageous-leadership-bill-hybels-hardcover-cover-artThe toughest challenge I’ve found in leadership is the art of self-leadership. The person I should be leading first isn’t my teenagers, my youth team or even my family. The person I should be leading first is myself. To be the man God desires me to be, the husband and father my wife and kids need me to be and the pastor and I must learn to lead myself first. Every month I grab a coffee, sit on the beach and spend an hour with Jesus reflecting on where my life is at. I use the following a list of questions Bill Hybels lists in his book Courageous Leadership to help me grow in my self awareness, but also in my own leadership.

  • Is My Calling Sure?
  • Is My Vision Clear?
  • Is My Passion Hot?
  • Am I Developing My Gifts?
  • Is My Character Submitted To Christ?
  • Is My Pride Subdued?
  • Am I Overcoming Fear?
  • Are Interior Issues Undermining My Leadership?
  • Is My Pace Sustainable?
  • Is My Love For God And People Increasing?

I want to encourage you to spend some time with Jesus over the next few days reflecting honestly over these questions and allowing Jesus to transform your heart, life and leadership to be more aligned with the Gospel.

If you could choose one…

Have you ever played the game Desert Island? It’s often played on long car drives or some kind of getting to know you activity. Basically, the idea of the game is you are trapped on a desert island, through some strange forfeit, but you get to choose several things to bring with you. So It could be a person, a CD, book, TV program etc.

I was thinking along these lines, If their was only one sermon you could ever listen, what would that be?

For me, it’d have to be a sermon I’ve heard 3 times preached live and watched and listened to several dozen more times by Judah Smith Lead Pastor of The City Church. Everytime I listen to listen to this message I find myself falling more in love with Jesus, desiring to get God’s perspective on my life more, a hunger and a passion for lost people and to grow in my call and grace as a leader and preacher in my church.  I’ve shared it with you here:

What about for you? If you could only ever chose one sermon, what would you choose? And why?

Your Life Matters