Friday, 20 April 2012

Where is my commitment?

The past six months have been pretty tough in many ways. This blog is not a "woe is me" moan but I do want to make a few points about what keeps me going. I have probably come closer to giving up and walking away from what I know God has called me to do than ever before. And as I write that last sentence there is a large clue as to why I keep going.

The Bible is not only the story of God's interaction and intention for mankind but it also gives great principles for our lives. Right the way through the narrative of God's word is a characteristic that is held in high honour but often given too little credence in our fast paced, easy-come easy-go world. That characteristic or virtue is commitment. The Bible will use the terms perseverance or faithfulness in similar contexts.

I look around and see that commitment is a virtue that is often found lacking. It is a virtue I have found lacking in my own life at times. How many times have I committed to losing weight and getting fitter, starting a project that lies unfinished, or even promising to take the kids somewhere and being too busy or too tired to fulfil my promise.

I don't know about you but a commitment is easy to give at the beginning or when things are going our way. Its when the going gets tough that commitment and perseverance are truly tested and seen. We are told that one of the outworkings of love is that it ALWAYS perseveres (1 Cor 13:7). We know that perseverance actually grows character in our lives (Romans 5:3-4).

Perseverance is actually hardest when we have a choice. If I am halfway home on my bike and the rain has soaked me to the skin, everything about me wants to quit but I know that I have no choice, I have to go on. Its much harder if its raining outside and I have committed myself to riding to work to get fit and save money but my car is sat in the driveway taunting me with how warm and cosy the drive will be compared to riding my bike.

What do we do when things don't go our way? Do we hold to our commitments and persevere in them or walk away?

Making a commitment means
  • I can't just walk away from something when it is not going well.
  • Its not so much about what I commit to but about it being part of my character.
  • That if I persevere in my commitments I am becoming more like Christ (2 Thess 3:5)
  • That I am walking in love.
  • If I fulfil them and they are in the will of God then I will receive what He has promised (Heb 10:36)

I have seen too many people not persevere in their commitments when things are not to their liking. I don't want to run away. Just because I feel like it, it doesn't mean that I will. Coming close is actually a miss. Coming close to quitting, in the words of Pastor Matthew Barnett is a good thing because it means we have something to quit from. Coming close to quitting is actually completely persevering in our commitments. So be encouraged if you have come close to quitting but haven't, you are on the right road.

So, to finish, what keeps me going in my role as the senior leader in NCLC?
  1. I fully believe God called me to start, grow and build this church.
  2. Just because things aren't as I want them to be right now, I know they are not what they were but are closer to what they could be.
  3. I have committed myself to seeing the lost become found and the found become disciples. Lives growing in God.
  4. God has given me so much grace that I have to pass that through to other people.
  5. I don't want to be known as a quitter.
  6. I fully believe God called me to start, grow and build this church.

I have a choice, I can walk away but I will keeping going. You have a choice, what will yours be?

Hope this helps.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Which crowd?

This week is Passion week. The days between Jesus entering Jerusalem to the adulation and adoration of the crowds, to being placed on trial for blasphemy and taken to the Roman death sentence of crucifixion.
The approaching weekend is probably the most significant few days in the Christian calendar. This time of year draws our attention to the sacrifice that Jesus made for us to bring us back into a restored relationship with God.
I have been contemplating some of the different crowds that have played a part in that week.

We have the crowd that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with praise, palm branches and proclaiming Him the coming king. They were there because maybe they had seen or even received a miracle from Jesus. They wanted to be part of this movement that they thought would sweep the Roman invaders from their promised land.

Then there was the crowd a few days later at Jesus' trial. Led by the religious and societal leaders, they shouted "Crucify him." There were possibly those from the crowd a few days earlier that were proclaiming their king.

Then on the day we now call "Good Friday" there was the small crowd that stood at the foot of the cross. Standing with their dreams in tatters and their hearts broken as their Rabbi, teacher, friend and master hung from the cross. I don't just want to be part of the crowd that gets carried along in the praise and worship of Jesus but is unable to go the distance to stand at the foot of the cross. I love the passion and vibrancy of our style of praise and worship, but lets not have it stop there. We need to make our way to the foot of the cross.

This Easter make a decision to be in the crowd that will stand at the cross and remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Then also remember that He calls us to deny ourselves, take up our own cross and follow His way. When our dreams are seemingly dead and our hearts broken, when our marriage has failed, maybe our sickness is persistent or the notice of redundancy has come through- what do we do? Do we become part of the crowd that has moved from singing the latest Hillsong song loudly to proclaiming that God doesn't care or isn't listening or maybe even denying He is real? Or do we make our way to the foot of the cross and remember that even if we never 'feel' God's love again we know with every fibre of our being that He loves me because of Jesus' death. Do we deny ourselves and take up our own cross and follow Him?

Which crowd will you be part of this Easter?

As NCLC we will come together as our three campuses to worship and remember the sacrifice and the victory that Easter shows us. This is one of the great windows of opportunity we have to invite people from our world into our church community. Don't waste it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad