A couple of weeks ago I posted a comment by Tim Keller… it was this:
“Your life is not a series of random events. Your family background, education, and life experiences—even the most painful ones—all equip you to do some work that no one else can do”
I’ve had this on my mind more and more… and the reason?
People seem to be convinced that because of the things that they did in their past means they don’t deserve to live a life that is better… or that they are destined for and I believe it’s a lie that we are fed that we start to believe… but it’s just that… a big fat LIE!
Now I could tell you millions of stupid mistakes I have made in my life… things that have hurt myself… others… things that may or may not be legal…
But here’s the thing, would I wish I hadn’t made them?… of course, the consequences were often painful… some still haunt me in one way or another even today… but would I prefer that I didn’t have them? No… not at all.
Because from my mistakes I learn way more than I ever could any other way and because of these mistakes I can help others who are in the same or similar situation… because I’m not just spouting theories… I’ve ACTUALLY been there… something that has often become very very valuable, and often more valuable than a certificate or degree.
In fact Thomas A. Edison was once asked if we was disappointed at failing over 9000 times when inventing the light bulb, and Edison’s answer was this “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Life doesn’t crush us… it helps mold us… however it comes with a warning.
“We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do“ (Eph. 2:10).
You see God, the creator of the universe prepared everything in ADVANCE… there isn’t anything haphazard about it… however (and here’s the warning) if you aren’t living according to HIS plans… then there is more and more chance that you won’t fulfill the awesome adventurous life that God had planned for you.
Paul when he wrote to the church in Rome said it like this:
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” – Romans 8:28 (NLT)
There are two things that stand out for me about this verse… one is the word “EVERYTHING” – you see that is great news… it’s not just the fun times, or the happy times or the moments of achievement but EVERYTHING in between as well… yes even the bad times, the really painful times… those times that make your heart sink when you look back at it.
Now it is really easy to gloss over the last part of this verse… and I’ve even heard pastors miss this important part out of sermons “and are called according to his purpose for them.”
You see unless you are LIVING how God called you to be living… under his guidance it will seem like life is just some random set of events out to make your life more difficult – “how the cards were dealt”…
However when you stop and look back and see how these so called ‘random events’ have made you into a better person… or made you perfect for a particular role… then you start to see a glimpse of Gods divine providence.
So do you know who you are? – Are you secure in the knowledge that you are where God wants you to be?
Are you living according to the purposes he has for you? – Because it’s only from HERE where ALL things become good… because our God is a God who can take nothing and turn it into something amazing.
And he’s created a path to put you in the perfect place to be AMAZING as a person with the specific set of skills that only you have… are you willing to follow that path and turn away from the destructive things from your past that are stopping you from being the person you are destined to be?
Here’s the promise if you do…
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
Sometimes it feels like God is hunting me down with a message that he wants me to get… not just in my head… not just in my heart… but deep down into the deepest crevices of my soul… so I thought I would stop, and listen.
You see I wonder if we have it all wrong as Christ followers.
Do we really want people to become Christians?
If we do… what does one look like?
I’ve seen bitter custody battles over children by two people who claim to be Christians…
I’ve read books about wars between two Nations who claim to have God on their side… Is our God schizophrenic?
I’ve worked with people who said they are Christian… but their behaviour would seem they are far from that.
The reality is you can ask 5 different people “What is a Christian?” and you will most likely get 5 different answers… or at least views on the subject.
And here is why I think that… because there is nothing to define what a Christian is!
Hold on… what does the Bible say about the matter… surely the Bible would solve this who argument for us…
You would think so right?
You see the Bible mentions Christians 3 times (to save you the trouble Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16) and for the most part it is used as a derogatory name… it was other people calling Jesus followers ‘Christians’… and when Peter (in 1Peter) uses the word it is in reference to what people where calling them. It was almost as if people were actually saying “look at that bunch of Jesus FREAKS… those… CHRIST-ians”
And this brings me to where I seem to be getting chased… hunted… pursued. It seems that every sermon I hear or Christian book I read a word is haunting me… the word ‘disciple’. Even our own Church HPCC discussed ‘being a disciple’ at our evening church last night!
Christ never called us to be Christians… I mean what is that?
Christ called us his DISCIPLES.
“Go into all the world and make disciples” Matthew 28:19
Not make Christians…
The world is sick of Christians… and that’s OK because that is not what we were called to be… we were called to be disciples of Christ.
Even our churches are filled with people who call themselves Christians but do little more than turn up on Sunday and sing a few songs… they do just enough to bring it up in an arguement “Oh no… I wouldn’t do THAT… I’m a Christian”
Now imagine if our churches were full of Disciples?
People who were students of Jesus?
The word ‘disciple’ appears over 200 times… and it starts to paint a really clear picture of what it means to be a disciple.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my disciple (follower), you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 (NLT)
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 (NLT)
You see it makes it very clear… we are to love one another… we are to turn from our selfish ways… we are to humble ourselves.
You see it’s not about us… it never is about us… it is about reflecting everything back to God.
But being a disciple is hard work… it is dedication.
No wonder people opt to be called Christian rather than a disciple of Christ… because being a disciple means you have to live like one.
Being a Christian means you can live however you want whenever you want… why?
Because being a ‘Christian’ isn’t defined… as far as the world is concerned it’s about being good.
But you will never be good enough until you surrender your life fully to Christ Jesus and become a disciple.
As my pastor in Queenstown Shar Davis used to say “Simple but not Easy”
A Telecommunications company in New Zealand had recently put into their advertising the phrase “ From here we can do anything”… at first I thought it was a bit arrogant sounding however when I started to put it into context of my Christian life it suddenly looked pretty good.
I believe that God has ALREADY placed a seed in our hearts that leads us to doing what we were originally designed and ultimately destined to do. How do I know this?
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10
So God has ALREADY place a passion, a dream into our lives… and he’s got it all mapped out.
So what is holding us back?
You might be wanting kids… but holding back because you want to pay off more of the house.
You might want to travel the world… but are scared of leaving your own country.
You might want to start a business… but your friends are telling you that the climate isn’t right for it.
And the list goes on… a dream… and the excuse why you’re not pursuing it. All of these things are a good to think about, however if you let them get in the way of what God has planned then you’re playing God in that part of your life.
When I read the Bible I see stories of men and women who changed the world regardless of their circumstances.
A shepherd boy defeating a trained fighter… a farmer building a boat that would save the world from a flood… a young boy who dreamed that he would become in charge of all of Egypt… even in our time there were people who weren’t willing to lie down and let the world pass them by… A old lady sat on a bus and refused to let the prejudices of the time dictate her right as a human… an inventor failed again and again until he invented the light-bulb.
What is holding you back?
Are you using the excuse that it’s just not your time?
That may be right… however are you preparing for when it IS your time?
I’m not sure if it’s really God or just me? Is what you have in your heart something that just won’t go away? Then it’s a good sign that it’s bigger than you…
Andy Stanley wrote in his book ‘The Next Generation Leader’:
“Generally speaking you are probably never going to be more than 80 percent certain. Waiting for greater certainty may cause you to miss an opportunity”
It’s always good to pray that the wind and waves will stop crashing round you, and in fact it says all throughout the Bible that it’s good to pray first, however there is a time when you need to stop praying and step out of the boat with your eyes fixed on Jesus and start walking on the water… something impossible that you were destined to do. Failure to do anything can lead to it being your greatest regrets. It’s the only way to be true to ourselves, and more importantly, true to God.
In Mark Batterson’s book ‘Soulprint’ he says this:
At the end of the day, God isn’t going to ask, “Why weren’t you more like Billy Graham or Mother Teresa?” He won’t even ask, “Why weren’t you more like David?” God is going to ask, “Why weren’t you more like you?”
In other words what are the fears holding you back?
Are you sitting waiting for the storm to pass?
Or are you preparing for the adventure that God has already placed on your heart?
With God beside you from here you can do ANYTHING!
To those on the outside looking in… it may seem arrogant… but what we have is a Holy confidence… an audaciousness that we know that our God won’t let us down… we may get things wrong… but we can never fail.
What a great way to start the New Year…
- Are your prayers gutless??? (screaminggoose.wordpress.com)
You hear people say that God is a big rule keeper… and that he demands so much from us… and I think REALLY?
I’ve been reading Genesis (the beginning of the world as my 8 year old puts it) and it seems to me that God gave us everything we needed… I mean EVERYTHING and only one rule.
God basically made the world to please and inspire and be wonderful just for us… and then he handed us the keys and said “there you go look after this baby for me… I made it for you” and then he added “Oh just to let you know you can eat the fruit from any of the trees except one”
OK that seems pretty easy doesn’t it…
ALL the trees are ok to eat from except one!
It wasn’t like “Here’s the car… oh and by the way the clutch slips, just watch out for that!” – it was I’ve only made one rule for you to follow and this is it!
And so God started the world as a World of GRACE.
It’s pretty cool huh?
Even in Acts there was more of a focus on less rules and more grace.
The apostles came up with this for new believers in the early church.
28 “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay no greater burden on you than these few requirements: 29 You must abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. If you do this, you will do well. Farewell.”
So basically here were the rules…
Don’t do anything that is sexually immoral… and don’t hack off the Jews.
Yet we have this thought that we have a whole lots of rules and regulations to follow in order to keep ourselves in Gods favour… the relatity is that when we become born again (become a Christian) it says we are made NEW… that means we are ALREADY born into Gods favour… lets not get stuck on the ‘rules’…
Here is the reality…
God is concerned more about the condition of your heart…
Don’t get lost in rules and regulations… they can’t get you closer to God.
God knew this…
The early church knew this…
yet we have forgotten!