Sunday, November 23, 2008

Forget fear, embrace obedience

Fear can be one of the biggest holdups to achievement.

How often do we not do something because we are 'worried about what might happen' or 'worried about....(fill in the appropriate reason).

Worried of what people will think.
Worried we'll fail and be embarrassed.
Worried people will think we're stupid or foolish.
Worried we'll alienate people.
Worried people will think we're crazy.
Worried we might lose everything.
Worried about our reputation.
Worried people will reject us.

Fear is one of the biggest weapons the enemy uses to stop us being who we were destined to be and doing what we were destined to do.

The reason we get all the innovations and major achievements in history though is because people were willing to take huge risks, be willing to look foolish for what they believed in.

When God tells us to do something, He does promise to be with us.

But He doesn't promise it will be easy.

There's this perception going around that just because God calls us, it will all be easy and smooth. Sometimes it does appear to happen like that with people.

But God calls us to trust Him. To persevere. To be obedient. To choose His path even when things seem against us.

I think when things keep trying to stop us, try to make us doubt, when the world and our own fears come in the way of our calling, its more likely that the calling was from God. There's someone who doesn't want God's kingdom to come and doesn't want our best, so he puts obstacles in our way to try and put us off.

That's when we need to be faithful and trust, and take a step of faith.

Why am I talking about this?

I recently took a step of faith, and it may not seem huge to some but for me it was a huge deal. Huge.

Telling people what I believed I was called to do with my life. What I believed God's long-term plan for me was. Saying it out loud.

Risking rejection, risking embarrassment.

I had to chance to avoid it. It would have been easy. But I knew I had to do it, otherwise it would remain a fantasy forever.

When I said it, it suddenly became real. It suddenly had power. I got affirmation and encouragement from those around me and through things I subsequently heard in talks, at church and in conversation.

But I know its not going to suddenly happen. Its a process will take years, and I just need to get on and make myself as ready as I can, do what I can do now and then trust and allow God to do what He can do.

God said to me today

'Yes, you will do this. Yes you can do this, despite what you think'

'You know this is your calling'

'You just need to believe it in your heart, and take action to prepare for it'

So that's what I intend to do. Now is not the time for making it public on a website, but I promise when God tells me to and when I can articulate it better, I will say what it is.

So let us forget fear and embrace our calling even though it may not come to fulfillment right now. Let us with God's help identify what we are called to do, whatever it is, and walk that path in any way we can, then allow God to do what He can do to make it possible.

Forget fear, embrace obedience.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes we can

On November 5 2008, history was made. A black/mixed race man is now the leader of a country known historically for racial problems.

As a Christian, what is our response to Barack Obama? What does his election mean for the church worldwide?

I can only give my own personal response.

The great thing about Barack Obama is that he inspired hope, belief and confidence in people from all over the world that we can be better. That life can be better. That we are capable of more and our culture is capable of being re-defined. That anything is possible. That even in difficult times, there is hope. I believe Barack Obama can bring radical change to America and indeed to the world.

The fact that so many people supproted him from all over the world, and so many Americans voted for him, gives me hope that the people of the world still have hope within them. That we haven’t given up. That people are still looking for something better to take them out of the wilderness.

That should be a great encouragement to the church.

What it says to me is that the church can change the world, if only we change to what Jesus intended us to be.

A movement, not a religion.
A way of life, not a set of rules.
United behind common values instead of divided over ones which aren’t as important.
Communicating that message without cheese, without legalism, without jargon, in a relevant, contempary, fresh and creative way.

Above all, rather than just talking about it, living it. Making it real and authentic.

What values do we believe in? Here’s what I think.

Unconditional love.
Grace - loving when people don’t deserve it.
Forgiveness, even when everyone else condemns.
Acceptance - welcoming of all people, of all backgrounds, genders, classes, colours, sexual preferences and regardless of whatever they have done in the past. God loves them all.
Justice for all.
Mercy to all.
Servanthood - serving and giving to all, even when they don’t deserve it or sometimes at cost to ourselves.
Humility - Remembering that we are not perfect, that we make mistakes and that despite believing in these values, we don’t always get it right and that we are in need of God.Sacrifice - that if we are willing to make sacrifces for the good of others, and put others first, then there is no limit to what we can achieve.

If we can communicate the values we stand for in a relevant way, using contempary lanaguage and methods of communicating, in a way that is true and authentic and has substance behind it in the way we live our lives, we can change the world.

If we can show people those values without letting religion, tradition, jargon, division, judgmentalism, hypocrysy, fundamentalism and legalism get in the way, then we will finally have communicated the good news in the way Jesus did and wanted us to.

People will finally see what we’re all about, and that all the negative stuff we put in the way and which has held us back is just a sideshow.

I know many of us are cynical over whether this can happen, whether the church or sections of the church can change and unite.

Maybe it will take a Christian leader as dynamic, positive and with as much faith in people as Barack Obama, and who can energise the church in the same way Obama as energised politics, to plant a church practising these values and being publicly recognised outside the Christian community for what he and his church does and stands for, to make it possible.

I wish that wasn't necessary. But maybe it is.

I believe its possible becuause I believe in a God of the impossible. I believe in the church. I believe that if enough people believe and unite behind a common cause, then things can change.

Barack Obama has proved that is possible. Starting with no money or party political backing, campaigning on the streets with no publicity, no security or anything a year ago, his movement has snowballed and he has become President, when 40 years ago a black/mixed race President seemed impossible.

We have no reason not to hope.

Jesus is the real, true hope of mankind, and it is only becuase Obama shares some of those values that he has been able to inspire such hope in me and in others.

We have no reason not to believe in the impossible.

Nothing is impossible with God.

If we believe, hope and act, then maybe things can change.

If we go on being cynicial and resigned to our fate, nothing will change. If we believe, have faith and hope in what we believe and what can be done, then change is possible.

We just need to believe.

As Obama himself has said “Yes we can”