“ Work is hard if you’re paid to do it, and it’s pleasure if you pay to be allowed to do it. ”
— Finley Peter Dunne
People often wonder what the meaning of life is. I propose it’s as simple as finding what you love to do and equipped to do and do it.
What I mean is – firstly what do you love? Then which of the things you love do your strengths and weaknesses enable you to do.
John Maxwell asks: “Find what you would do for free and then get good enough at it to be payed”.
The best people we have working for us are people who aren’t necessarily payed the most, but simply those who love their Job.
People who impact generations and make the history books are simply people who found something worth chasing and had the courage to go after it no matter what the cost. This is really why I love working at Church. The entire ministry of the Church can really be summed up simply – Connect people to their creator, find out what they were created for and equip them to do it.
The hardest part is finding it, once you’ve found it go get it.
“ It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.”— Elbert Hubbard
What is your product? I was asking my team the other day in our staff meeting. “Physiotherapy!” a resoundingly confident response echoed. My response to them – “is it really?”.
We are in the life business not physiotherapy. IF that were our product then people would come in and line up and just get treated. BUT our patients come for experience, for connection, for inspiration. They come looking to believe that they can be better then they are right now. How we happen to do that is by fixing their physical ailments so they can be that much better physically.
We are in the business of changing lives… What does this mean? Each physiotherapist is actually a leader – you lead your patient. The hardest part discovering the potential in the person. What could that patient potentially be? Point them toward that, inspire them and then lead them there.
What does a leader really do? Lead people? Maybe it’s a little harder then that – Our job is to discover the potential in people and then help them see it. Then inspire them and lead them there. This is why our job is so hard – it requires you to believe that every person has potential, formulate what that potential is and then more often than not the hard part isn’t seeing the potential, but helping them see it.
I’ve worked with countless young people from broken homes who simply won’t believe that they can be anything more than they are right now. I’ve worked with people in chronic pain from physical ailments and most often the first hour is simply about convincing them that i see they can live a better life than they’re living right now.
This is why i love my job, but this is also why I feel leaders have the hardest job in the world. To lead people means to give yourself to every person you lead. To sow your heart into their potential and it’s worth it all just to see one reach it – but it hurts a lot when they just don’t.
In our society we aspire to leadership without really knowing what it is, so i ask you is this what you really want? If you sell computers you can fix them – imagine trying to fix a human being. It is the hardest and best job in the world.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life – John 3:16
I was with a friend getting coffee on the weekend and he asked me about one of his friends. Going through a difficult time my friend felt the only appropriate response was “God is in control” – He asked me why this cliche answer although true felt somewhat unsatisfactory. Why wasn’t it comforting for his friend going through a difficult time?
It did get me thinking as i realised that the line was actually a subjective line. “God” is in control. In Today’s popular culture “God” can mean many things – though we know what we mean, the question was do they?
It is about perspective, who we define “God” to be defines whether the cliche “God is in Control” is comfortable or the worst possible news you’ve heard in your life.
For example if a father hits his child depending on the child’s perspective the same situation can mean 2 separate things. Firstly if the father is absent, unkind, and abusive then striking his child is a horrible thing. However if the father is loving and tender and the child knows this than although hurt and perhaps a bit angry the child is aware that this action is discipline and motivated by love.
The former is terrible and not very comforting is that “father” is in control. The Latter is painful but for the good of the child and very comforting if that father is in control.
If you’re in a tough time, before telling yourself or a third party that “God” is in control – define God. How do you see him? Is he hateful, angry and unapproachable? Or loving, sacrificial, graceful and merciful? The bible is rarely read today, and theology and philosophy have taken a backseat to science, ironic because the majority of truths of human society throughout history have stemmed from philosophy not science.
But if you read this text which we (Christians) believe God has used to tell us who he is, then we see that the crescendo or climax of the story between God and Man as an act of sacrificial love. John 3:16 – Where the powerful mighty God gave up the life of his perfect most beloved son so that the sinful man could know and love him. Knowing this, that he loves us that much then in every circumstance it can be the most comforting thing you’ve ever heard that someone this powerful is in control of what is happening to you. If he gave you what he loved most then without a doubt we can know that even in turmoil we are in the midst of something painful unravelling into something for our good (Romans 8:28).
For when I am weak, then I am strong – 2 Corinthians 12:10
We live in a world that celebrates the strong, the strongest man, the mightiest warrior, the most burley athlete, but seldom is weakness something strived to be attained. Ironically weakness is something that we all whether we profess to it or not, are in fact burdened with. Just as each human being is made with “strength” and “weakness”.
When i first began my mentorship on leadership my wise mentor asked me a simple question… What are your weaknesses? – I struggled to answer – this little did i know demonstrated the greatest weakness of all – Pride. The inability to truly identify myself because i was only half complete – that is i knew only my strengths and not my weaknesses.
Paul however has a different view on weaknesses. He opens an apparent oxymoron to the conversation of living the life of a strong christian. That is to be strong one must be weak, in fact he goes even further to say that ONLY when you’re weak then you are actually strong.
How can this be so? – Simply this – armed with the faith that comes knowing Jesus is the wisest and the strongest, and that his character is loving and will accomplish what is best for his children for their good and his glory. Then only a child that steps aside and allows the father to accomplish the task is truly strong.
I use a simple analogy. Say there are two young children, both trying to lets say chop as much as wood as possible. The father offers to help, the first child in pride turns down his father’s offer and chops the wood himself. The second realising that the task must be complete for the family to have heating for the evening humbly allows his father to assist him. Which child is stronger? Left to his own devices the first child would have the family sleep in the cold, the second knew he was weak and thus he was strong.
As children of God we are not called to save the world on our own, in fact i firmly believe that God has called each of us to something far beyond our own capabilities, a destiny that can only be achieved hand in hand with his help. Why? Because only together will it be for our good and his glory.
May we realise we are very weak, and humbly take help from our strong father, may we realise that it is only with such humility in our short-comings that we become truly strong.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. – Romans 12:1
What drives you daily? I begin this blog with a rhetoric because it is the resounding question currently voiced within our Church. It is the beginning of an exciting new season at Thyme Court Church. As 2011 draws to a close there is a sudden sense of change amongst our people.
Have you ever experienced that season in church where things just fit together, and suddenly all our leaders see eye to eye, our preaching is common in topic and woven together in such a phenomenal way that can only be attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit.
There is a sudden anticipation of change, as we await what God will do in 2012. The word in our Church has been inspiration. What is our source of inspiration? What is that “x-factor” that drives Christians to work harder, dream bigger and go further than the every day joe? To live extreme lives in extreme times?
Well Pauls sums it up well in this section of the book of Romans. He states two things, a cause and effect.
Cause: “View” He speaks of beginning this chapter with a “therefore” and an “in view of” – Basically he is speaking in retrospect. But retrospect to what? Well God’s mercy? In context the previous 11 chapters have been a synopsis of Paul’s perspectives outlaying his entire doctrinal beliefs. Many theologians believe this verse is where he transitions from theological doctrine to practical application. He begins his practical section with a statement basically implying that the practical Christian life is one lived in retrospect.
Daily we look back, in view of God’s mercy and this is our inspiration to live, to work, to do, to be, and to become all that we are called to be. What is God’s mercy? Well i won’t get into the full doctrine, but basically the amazing redemption, adoption, justification, sanctification, grace and mercy found in the person and work of Christ (aka the Gospel).
What is our inspiration? It’s the Gospel, that’s it, nothing else.
Secondly Paul then addresses this singular point. What practical response are we supposed to have to this Gospel? Well… Offer your lives as a living sacrifice. It sounds crazy but when you are exposed to such an amazing love story, whereby a God-Man Jesus gracefully lays down his life to save yours it’s no longer crazy to lay down your life, it’s only logical.
Yes our lives can’t match his, he has payed so much more, but Christianity has never been about repaying an eternal unpayable debt to an eternal God, but rather it’s always been about responding to what an eternal and Loving/ saving God does to us. In return in love, we give our lives gratefully, passionately and fervently.
This makes “crazy” Christians seem less crazy and somewhat logical. In fact with this in mind “uncrazy aka lukewarm” Christians seem like the crazy ones. How can you respond any other way if you truly have experienced and understand this story of amazing grace?
This is why we live for the cause, this is why people have died for the cause. Not to repay an eternal debt, but to respond to an eternal act of graciousness and love.
This is our inspiration… This is what drives us, what ignites us, what unites us and what allows us to go further, work harder, love more and give more than we ever thought we were capable. It is the gospel that forces us to move from selfish to selfless, proud to humble, weary to passionate, it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I see a church mobilised as one, and inspired by the cross, where people serve not because they have to, but because they get to. Where people love more, give more, serve more, do more not because they have to but because they get to, because it’s all we can do in response to this Gospel. Imagine what 1, 2 or 2000 people like this could do? It’s only by this that we can truly be the hands and feet of Jesus in our City.
Praise God, that it is only because you loved us first (1 John 4:19), that you set the standard, that you provided all the inspiration we will ever need.
“God is Love, Love is not God” – Marty Foord
Before we start our vision series tonight my bible college lecturer made a statement which brought about an interesting challenge on world views. He stated the above quote, which meant illustrated the human condition of pride.
So often we make our definition of love based on our experiences, we define what we think love is and then we demand that God conform to this world view of Love that we have concocted. It’s noted that John states in his letter 1st John that it is God who should shape our world view. God is love, and our definition of love should be defined in who he is, and we should shape our response to the word based on what his actions show us love is. We see that the world says love makes you feel good, that it should be easy, but the bible show us that Love is sacrifice, and that true love is sometimes painful. So painful but it’s about doing what is good for the other not doing what they necessarily want. So painful that it died on a cross for the good of you and I. Love is sacrifice, it is giving, not receiving, it is al found in Jesus and the ultimate climax of love found on the cross.
It really challenged me, how many other mindsets and preconceptions do I have of the world that i’ve defined and then demanded that God to conform with. What is my notion of leadership? Is it shaped by the greatest leader of all? What is my notion on suffering? Is it based on God’s definition of love?
It’s really reminded me in this tough season that as painful as these problems are, they are out of love, they are for my good and i can take comfort because as impossibly hard as it seems to get, God is love and this means it’s not always doing what i want, but it’s about doing what God knows i need. Like a child needs their parents wise guidance, so do I as i journey through this life where i’m desperately seeking to become who Jesus intends me to be, for my good and his glory.
It enables me to love him. I truly can begin to understand why it is that John in 1 John 4:19 can say that he can love only because God loved him first. John was later persecuted and cooked alive in oil. And amidst such pain he finds God’s love, he finds that he closer to his father his true love than he ever could have been apart from such suffering?
Could falling in love with Jesus be the most frightening decision you’ll ever make? Could letting him change you into the best you can be the most challenging thing you’ll ever face? Yes. It will cost you everything else. But in contrast you will give all of yourself to something, some cause, some person, some object, some career, why? Calvin says the human heart is an Idol factory.
We give our lives for something, we suffer for something, it may as well be the creator rather than created. It may as well be for our good and for his glory.
1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. – Luke 15:1-6
Illogical. Logic is something i hold dear, I often find myself easily frustrated when people’s actions defy logic. Why do you do that? It makes no sense? But over the years i have realised something. Not everyone is logical, a lot of people are emotional.
So in this story i can somewhat understand the confusion of the pharisees as Jesus describes a picture of what the kingdom of God is like. He says it’s like a shepherd who when he loses one sheep, abandons the rest of his flock (who should i mention are left vulnerable to threats), and finds this lost sheep.
I have never understood this concept, how is this like the kingdom of God?
Well in the same pattern we have applied to our previous parables when we read it we must ask ourselves, who am i? who is God?. Well it’s obvious that God is the shepherd, and we are sheep. It seems that there are 2 sub-categories of sheep, a group and one that goes astray.
Yet Jesus loves each sheep individually, so much that it is irrational, that he will chase that silly lost sheep. Now if you look at it cynically you’l criticise the irrational nature of Jesus’ actions. But if you look at it through the eyes of grace.
“though we all like sheep have gone astray… each of us gone our own way” – Isaiah 53:6
If we look at this story and realise that we are actually the lost sheep, then we will praise God for his irrational tsunami of grace. We will praise him for his persistent love. We will praise him for never giving up on us. We will praise him because though we turn our own way, his love still reaches us.
I think when we read this story humbly, knowing that we are nothing it leads us to glorify God more. When we read it with the eyes of a pharisee, one who believes he is somewhat worthy of the shepherding afforded him, than it is not that we diminish God’s love in our life, but it is that we miss out on the reception of the most powerful gift the gospel can bestow… the revelation of grace. The revelation knowing that though you are so foolish, you have a received a free gift so undeserving, so compelling that you the found sheep will not stop praising your shepherd for the rest of eternity.
This is irresistible grace. This is God’s irrational love for his lost sheep (everyone).
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
- Matthew 13:44-47
Well i’ve taken 2 days off blogging, i’ll be honest that tonight is a struggle to come back. I’m still mourning the loss of my dog. I went to a pet store today and watched some of the puppies. I held one who was the same breed as Samson, and i found myself intensely holding back tears as his playful nature and loving eyes reminded me oh so much of the dog i lost. I thought perhaps it were not a good idea to buy a new dog – it was very hard.
Have any of you ever found yourself thinking if i could just have that… or “i would trade a thousand ______ for _____” I definitely have. I remember at 16 thinking i would trade all my possessions just for a chance to date that girl. The 2 questions you must ask yourself when reading this parables of Jesus is “what is that thing i would trade everything for?” – is it career? money? relationship? well i’m not sure.
But the two men in story were after treasure/ a pearl respectively. Both men valued this “treasure/ pearl” above everything else. So much so that when they found it they gave up everything else just in exchange to own this particular treasure.
As Christians Jesus clearly places emphasis on the fact that the kingdom of God is this treasure. When someone discovers the gospel, they realise that it’s actually everything they’ve always been looking for. So they’ll do crazy things, like give up friends, family, careers, not because those things aren’t good. But because when you find that one thing, everything else pales in comparison. You’ll give it all up for that one thing.
I would trade everything i have for the gospel, for the surpassing knowledge and worth of knowing Christ, but i would never trade Christ for anything in this world. Mark Driscoll asks of his congregation this challenging questions:
“If I told you i would give you a million dollars to stop reading the bible for one year would you say yes? – If so than a million dollars is your God, not Jesus – How do you know what your idol is? It’s what you would sacrifice everything for, if Jesus has a price than he is not your God”
The Apostle Paul says it even better in his letter to the Philippians: But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ – Phillipians 3:7-8
I’ve been challenged in the past few weeks, challenged by the kind of extreme life that the Gospel forces you to live. When you know God, you can’t help but want to keep knowing him and loving him more. This sometimes conflicts with some other things you used to love, and it often means letting go of things that were once important to you. But you can’t stop, because even if you want to, you cannot turn your back on this irresistible grace.
I’ve been meditating this fact following the passing of Samson as i realise that everything other than God is temporal and loss is just part of life. The only thing that i can safely hold onto without fear of loss or change is Jesus. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. People come and go, relationships end, careers change, world views alter – But our God is the only stable foundation on which i can safely base the foundations of my core values and ultimately my identity. If who i am is rooted anywhere but Jesus, that i will sway back and forth as the times change. But in Jesus, i know certainly who I am and certainly carry a hope that will surely be my strength and inspiration everyday forever.
“If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his true friend” – Abraham Lincoln
I would tweek the quote a little, by saying that instead of convincing them you are their true friend, just be their true friend.
Working in Physiotherapy i’ve come to realise that every patient that comes through my door my first job is not diagnosis, or treatment or management, but in actual fact it is convincing these people that i am about to lead them through a plan to better health because i genuinely care for them.
This challenge is tough when they are paying for the treatment.
The other day a patient came into my clinic after driving quite a significant distance, she had returned 3 times and stated that it was worth the drive because from the first moment she spoke to me she knew immediately that i genuinely cared for her. She has referred me 3 patients.
Why is this important? Because it all begins with love. A leader is not just someone going somewhere, but rather someone going somewhere and taking people with him/ her there. People will not follow you unless they feel you love them.
I think we make this mistake a lot, not just in business but even in church where the business is love. We teach young people to do the right thing and they just won’t? We just keep rebuking, judging, condemning… etc. But we forget that before you can condemn someone for their sin, you need to show them that you genuinely love them. Then you can show them that a difficult change is necessary for a positive difference in their life.
I think i need to do this, in business, in youth ministry, i must love them first and then lead them our of this overflowing love.
In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Okay i’ll be the first ti admit i was feeling pressure in writing a blog about one of the most well known parables of all time. Every once in a while though i get writers block and the pressure of feeling the need to write a good blog overwhelms me, until i remind myself that this blog is about Glorifiying God, not me and sharing the experiences God has used to make me more like him.
So i’m not going to do a theological defunct of the story of the good samaritan because you can rightly break this story down into numerous messages, hence why it is so powerful.
For me, this is what it’s about.
God loves people, and when we love God we love people. When you love someone you love what they love. The message is that simple.
What’s interesting is that as we read about the levite, the priest we think… oh my goodness who would do that?! Ironically a good parable like we’ve realised sneaks up on you as you realise… hang on i do that! When was the last time work became more important then what you were actually working for? You see stories of people chasing their careers, working to make millions all at the expense of friends, family and community… but what was the money for in the first place? You see churches huddle into “small” ( i state small because they tend to stay small) groups week in and week out to learn about the aesthetics of God and his commands, and then 5 years later the group is the same size, they’ve helped 2 people pass exams, prayed for each others emotional and financial burdens, fed each other some good meals, had some good BBQ’s, caught up for some good deep and meanigful conversations over coffee, learnt the latest hillsong lyrics off by heart and yet something is still missing…
Evangelism… It’s about people, how many lost, broken, dieing, doomed people do we walk over everyday as we drive to small groups, work ro home. What about that person at work who is lonely and needs a listening ear? What about that neighbour who you pass casually during a daily conversation and yet never think to really get involved emotionally. What about that acquaintance is always “fine” – and you’ve never thought to look deeper.
This parable reveals 2 things to us. If we were truly saved by Grace we’d realise firstly that we are samaritans (nothing, no body’s saved purely by grace) and yet somehow we are “Good”, not because of us but because Jesus allows us to be. To truly be good, you must be a samaritan. Only those who humble themselves and realise they are terrible and only God is good can find true goodness.
For whoever wants to save their life[f] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. – Matt 16:25
When we let go of our lives and realise we are indeed nothing we truly find our goodness in Christ.
As Chrstians we are Samaritans. Sometimes outcasted by society, persecuted and pressured, but we are Good in Christ. We walk past injure, dieing people daily and we need to care, we need to help.
What is God saying? What does this reveal about the kingdom of God? It reveals that more than our beautiful programs, services, church buildings, clean fancy dress codes, traditions, laws, rules, more than these things God cares first about people. People hurting, lost, in need of hope found only in a saviour… Jesus. People first, programs later. Are our churches people focussed? Are you so caught up in rushing to band practice, church small group, work, home, play that you walk over hurting people every day? If so perhaps we need to stop. look. and help.
Not just help basically, but help above and beyond, to go the extra mile.
One last thing i’d like to point out. In no way do i feel that i havn’t walked past countless people who needed help just because i was too busy. I am the worst culprit of this. But i’d like to think that i can become the samaritan God wants me to be Good through him, for him, to the people.
May we remember that our mission is Christ centred and for People not programs. May we have eyes to see past our distractions to the hurt around us, and bring above and beyond help where we can.