Fascinate people to Jesus

fascinating[Re-post and Re-written]

There is something about Christians that should be different. We should stand out.

Shine.

Go against the crowd.

We have a message of hope, we carry an eternal promise of truth. We have Jesus.
Jesus is beautiful.

Everyday when I switch on the news I cringe and slump. But in my heart I can say Jesus is beautiful.

His death resurrection gives us hope.

Our lifestyles should reflect this truth. We should be courageous in Love, reaching out to the dirty, the outcasts, the low in society, the unclean, the hopeless, the people without a voice.

We shouldnt be concerned with social status because we wear a different dress code. Our actions and words should scream a different story that’s so radical from society:

that promotes Jesus over man,
that shares the good news,
that welcomes in the broken and the weak
that says to a suffering world that Jesus understands. He has been there and carries the marks of suffering too.

We should fascinate people to Jesus. The Great I AM. The Shepard.

The Lamb. Our Great High Priest. Our God. Our Husband.

We are to fascinate the world by not being concerned with self-image, or trying to buy the latest gadgets, or trying to be popular. Not with beauty of self but beauty of Christ.

And that beauty shines through the church.

Jesus loves the church.

Church is a place where people can limp over the line and be welcomed in with arms wide open.

The church is both messy and beautiful and Jesus loves the church. The church is the bride of Christ.

The bride of Christ is to fascinate the world to Jesus.

Christian Leadership

Mnextleadersichael Green who is an author and evangelist did an interview two years ago about Christian leadership. He shares some of his story in this and encourages the next generation to be bold and take risks. Do take time to listen to the interview, it is rather inspiring.

We have much to learn from our older generation, they have much wisdom to teach us. And here are just a few things that Michael Green says about the marks of a Christian leader.

Firstly a leader is born, not made. It’s in their DNA! When looking for CU leaders we are looking for people who can lead, that can set an example and shine, that can gather people around them and set the vision. But leaders don’t have to be loud or in your face, instead there needs to be:

1. Servant Leadership: Not pushing people around but instead serve them. Being the first to serve, the first to put the towel around the waist and wash others feet. Often we see leadership as the one sthat makes all the decisions, the one with authority and in charge. But actually good leadership is the serving kind. The one that puts others before yourself, the one who loves first and forgives quickly.

I know people who get upset that they are not leaders, students that didn’t make committee or people who didn’t make elders. They think their ideas are better and they are better than those who are in leadership. But perhaps there is something to learn here, to humble yourself and to serve others without complaining will show greater marks of leadership than those who complain and speak louder than others.

2. Balance: Not pushing one theology or agenda over another. But keeping a balance. If you focus on one and go too far that way then it sets the agenda for everything you do which could distort your ministry and scripture. The point I think he is making is that there needs to be a balance, a balance of evangelism and feeding the poor, a balance of caring for widows and youth work. Not straying into one area and forgetting another. He says he prays for balance every day.

3. Risk: Be prepared to make mistakes. It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to be weak. Christians are weak and they fail often. A leader doesn’t hide away from opportunities because they are afraid to fail. A leader takes a opportunity, gives it a go and then if they fall over they will be picked up again and carry on. CU Leaders need to take risk and have space to fail – putting too much pressure on them to get it right first time seems very ungracious.

4.Shared: Your team has gifts and they need to share in your leadership. It’s very easy to think you can do it all and do it all by yourself. But a mark of a good leader is one that can share their leadership with others. They need to give opportunities to others to learn how to lead and to use their gifts.

Lastly nobody should minister without being ministered to. They need to be looked after. Get a mentor or get someone who will be honest with you. As a leader you need to be accountable to someone, you need honest conversations, you need to be cared for before you care for others so that you don’t burn out.

Obviously there are probably more areas, more areas of character for sure. But these are just a few that Michael Green spoke about which I found helpful.

Bring me to Christ

cold-heartWe enter the new year carrying our resolutions under our arms. This year will be better. This year I will  be better. I want a new me – slender body, social butterfly, intellectual power that will knock your socks off. The new me will be able to handle criticism and flourish in social situations. The new me will be able to quote Nietzsche and be able to pronounce his name correctly. This year will ultimately be about me. I have plans all wrapped up in my resolutions – I know the books I need to read, the people I need to contact, the strengths I need to cultivate, the serving that needs to be done. I have a tick list to make myself better and achieve ultimate Christian status. I will give to God more than I have before. I will strive, conquer, achieve. Strength will be my battle armour.

Goodness. How exhausting. To be honest I am not one for resolutions, I don’t like the idea of setting myself up to fail. Call me a half empty glass, but honestly, slender bodies, social prowess, intellect and striving to give back to God all that I have isn’t going to fulfill me. It isn’t going to bring me everlasting joy. The reason I think they are going to make me happy or a better Christian is because I believe the lie that Jesus isn’t enough. This lie seeps in and dulls my heart. The affections of my heart are dull.

Paul says to the Corinthians in 2Cor6v12 – “You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections”. Our own affections stop us and it’s not because they are too passionate, but they are as CS Lewis says –

““It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us…”

Our passions and desires are dull and weak. We easily go after broken cisterns in search of something that will fulfill us, but we find dust and dirt instead of a fountain of living water.

Its funny, we often say that we know the Gospel, but yet we easily forget Christ. If we didn’t forget Christ so easily it would be evident in the affections of our hearts. I can tell you that my heart is often cold and it needs to be awaken. The danger for us is that often we try to awaken it with the whip of the law, a list of things to do, resolutions to keep, steps to guide us. As this whips us into action, we can only move around slowly like cold muscles trying to work out and all too soon they rip and tear.

What the Christian heart needs then is simple: It needs Christ. Bring me to him. He is my great physician, my wonderful healer. He is the fire that warms my heart and sets it ablaze. Bring me to him and not to a list of things to do. Tell me of Christ and not law. Tell me of Christ and not a step by step guide on how to live as a Christian. For if my heart is aflame with the love of Christ and my very being filled with the Spirit of Christ then I will walk in step with His spirit.

Please speak of Christ to me. Bring me to him. Not just once but every time I see you or hear you. I beg you because he is my daily bread and my living water. He is the one I need above all things. And I know you need him too. So then let me bring you to him. Let me bring you to your saviour and King. Are you weary? Brokenhearted? Then come to him who gives you strength and binds the broken heart. Are you downcast and in darkness? Then come to him who has felt your downcast and has suffered it but who brings light in the darkness. Do you feel ashamed? Come to him who takes your shame and puts it to death.

O Preacher bring me to Christ. Bring all of us to Christ. Preach of him and only him. We need it or we may go out cold.

Forgetting your first love

This is a re-post from around this time last year:

Some days are such a battle where you just compare yourself to everyone. You look across that room and its so easy to feel worthless, its so easy to be in a situation where you feel like you can’t handle it and you wish you were like someone else.Its really easy to get lost in your own thoughts about how you should be, to get lost in your own self righteousness – in the sense that you feel that people ought to tell you “well done”. You continue along that road waiting for someone to give you approval and you live for it. How it satisfies your heart for about two seconds as you hear your name in a sentence of approval. Your heart lives for it.

My heart lives for it. I live a life of wanting approval from everyone. Believe me I want to be the best staff worker not because of Jesus, but because people think I am. I want people to think I am creative,intelligent, an amazing evangelist, theologian and apologist oh and also sociable and the best friend they have ever had. I want their approval and I will strive to get it until I am exhausted and crying. Believe me this will only end in tears and a broken heart. It will end in a breaking point where I am so worried about what people think of me and if they think I am doing a good job, that I only fix my eyes on this and my insides begin to rot, my heart becomes hard and my first love is no longer Jesus but myself and approval. I will become a very sick person.

You know what needs to be done? I have discovered two things:

1. Repent – if this is you…repent and believe. I need to pour my heart out before God and say I’m sorry and ask him to soften that hard heart…

2. Remind yourself of the Gospel and your status– Oh we have a sweet sweet Gospel. And this is because of our sweet Jesus and how beautiful He is. Everything is about Him and we need to come back to our wonderful Jesus. Pray for our hearts to yearn for Him and love Him because He is worthy and He is love. And do you know what? Your status is in Christ and this is not trashing your character, but its bringing you into the best relationship you will ever have and you will be adopted as a son or daughter. God “lavishes” his Grace upon us (Ephesians 1:7-8). This isn’t a sprinkle its a lavishing, its plentiful and its right there in your relationship with Christ. So come back to Him because He gives you a beautiful status that is never changing and your approval continues to be in Him and continues to be by Him. Come back to Christ as your first love and be reminded of the glorious riches of His Grace…this speaks straight to my heart, I need to come back to Christ and have Him as my first love.

How much better it is to truly know who you are in Christ and to love Him with your whole heart. No longer are you fighting for other people to tell you what you are worth, but Christ gives you your worth. Its wonderful to be a Christian, its wonderful to know Jesus and to be loved by Him and no longer needing approval from anyone.