Saturday, 22 August 2009

Insights from Rick Warren

I found this on The Reservoir

In the interview by Paul Bradshaw with Rick Warren, Rick said:

People ask me, what is the purpose of life?

And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven..

One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body– but not the end of me.

I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act – the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.

Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one..

The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.

We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.

I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore.

Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.

No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on..

And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems:

If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain. But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her- It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life.

Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder.. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when my book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy.

It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don’t think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease.

So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.

Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God’s purposes (for my life)?

When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don’t get anything else done today, I want to know you more and love you better. God didn’t put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He’s more interested in what I am than what I do.

That’s why we’re called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.

Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.

Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.

Painful moments, TRUST GOD.

Every moment, THANK GOD.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

My Daily Creed

By Author Unknown

Let me be a little kinder,
Let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those about me;
Let me praise a little more;

Let me be, when I am weary,
Just a little bit more cheery;
Let me serve a little better
Those that I am striving for.

Let me be a little braver
When temptation bids me waver;
Let me strive a little harder
To be all that I should be;

Let me be a little meeker
With the brother that is weaker;
Let me think more of my neighbor
And a little less of me.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The Wizard of Oz

I was thinking about the Wizard of Oz – the story. Of how a little girl, Dorothy, a stupid Scarecrow, a Tin Woodman, and a Cowardly Lion all journey together, anxiously trying to reach the Wizard of Oz in the belief that he will meet all their needs. Dorothy wants to go home; the Scarecrow desires brains; the Tin Woodman longs for a heart and the Lion craves courage.

When the travelers arrive at the Emerald City, where the Wizard lives, each perceive him in a different way: To Dorothy, the Wizard is a giant head; the Scarecrow sees a beautiful woman; the Tin Woodman sees a ravenous beast; the Cowardly Lion sees a ball of fire. Yet the reality of the Wizard is a disappointment: he is just an old man with no obvious magical powers. Nevertheless, he provides the Scarecrow with a head full of bran, pins, and needles ("a lot of bran-new brains"), the Tin Woodman with a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, and the Cowardly Lion with a potion of "courage", and promises to help Dorothy get home. (He doesn’t achieve this.)

Yet these useless items don’t, of course, provide what they promise. The characters survive and triumph through friendship and courage in adversity. Together, they protect and help each other, for each of them recognises the value of the others.
And that’s what I think it is all about: giving and receiving value.

Value isn't achieved through having brains, or a beautiful nature/personality (we are not all naturally kind-hearted, for example, though that is something we CAN learn to be), or being naturally brave - likewise, we can learn how to act bravely. Value is not about the kind of job we have - whether that's out at work, or at home; or how successful we are at what we do; or whether we are 'nice' or popular - it doesn't depend on what others think about us. It doesn't even depend on what we think about ourselves. We just have to know that we are of VALUE:

Valuing others. Philippians 2:2-4 says: (be) like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (NIV)

The Message: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

It sounds simplistic to have an attitude of helping others, but think of the opposite: disagreement, bad-feeling, antagonism, hate, enmity and rivalry; selfishness, unhelpfulness, self-centredness, self-seeking, self-importance, ambitious at the expense of others; pride, vanity, smugness, arrogance. Any one of these are enough to frighten us!

This might sound like a lot of giving, but it is also about receiving value. We treat others as of great value because we ourselves are of value.

Isaiah 43: 1 – 5 listen to the LORD who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
… Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. (New Living Translation)

Again, in The Message: Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you.
I've called your name. You're mine.
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you.
When you're in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you…That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you!
I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you. (The Message )

And so I think, when we know how VALUABLE we are, how precious to God, it becomes so much easier to give value to others and to love others. To have this attitude of helpfulness, sharing and not needing to be first, or to be valued by others, or to achieve recognition.

How can we do this?

Believe God’s promises. Time and time again, in the Psalms, God’s people are referred to as precious to him. Psalm 72:14 He (God) will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight. (NIV)

Psalm 94:15, The Message: God will never walk away from his people, never desert his precious people. Rest assured that justice is on its way and every good heart put right.

Micah 7:18 The Message (MSG)
Where is the god who can compare with you— wiping the slate clean of guilt, Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don't nurse your anger and don't stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That's what you love most. And compassion is on its way to us. You'll stamp out our wrongdoing. You'll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean.

Zechariah 2:8 “Anyone who harms you harms my most precious possession.

Luke 12:7, 23 - 25 New Living Translation (NLT)
And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows….Look at the ravens. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than any birds!

Remind ourselves. Play praise and worship music at every opportunity; put relevant Bible verses where we will see them often: a post-it on the steering wheel, on your work station or desktop, on the mirror at home… a rolling screensaver…a significant piece of jewellery…

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

God never sends you out alone!

I read this on Crosswalk Weekly, an email I get regularly: I just love it!

God Never Sends You Out Alone
by Max Lucado

When you place your faith in Christ, Christ places his Spirit before, behind, and within you. Not a strange spirit, but the same Spirit: the parakletos. Everything Jesus did for his followers, his Spirit does for you. Jesus taught; the Spirit teaches. Jesus healed; the Spirit heals. Jesus comforted; his Spirit comforts. As Jesus sends you into new seasons, he sends his counselor to go with you.

God treats you the way one mother treated her young son, Timmy. She didn't like the thought of Timmy walking to his first-grade class unaccompanied. But he was too grown-up to be seen with his mother. "Besides," he explained, "I can walk with a friend." So she did her best to stay calm, quoting the Twenty-third Psalm to him every morning: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life..."

One school day she came up with an idea. She asked a neighbor to follow Timmy to school in the mornings, staying at a distance, lest he notice her. The neighbor was happy to oblige. She took her toddler on morning walks anyway.

After several days Timmy's friend noticed the lady and the child.

"Do you know who that woman is who follows us to school?"

"Sure," Timmy answered. "That's Shirley Goodnest and her daughter Marcy."


"My mom reads about them every day in the Twenty-third Psalm. She says, 'Shirley Goodnest and Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life.' Guess I'll have to get used to them."

You will too. God never sends you out alone. Are you on the eve of change? Do you find yourself looking into a new chapter? Is the foliage of your world showing signs of a new season? Heaven's message for you is clear: when everything else changes, God presence never does. You journey in the company of the Holy Spirit, who "will teach you and will remind you of everything I have told you" (John 14:26 NLT).

From Fearless by Max Lucado

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Being real

A week or so before New Wine I listened to a series of talks by Jay Pathak, a Vineyard pastor working in Denver. The emphasis was on being REAL: talking about Jesus, not hiding behind 'church' or even 'Christianity' but by just talking openly about Jesus - who he was, what he did, why he died...

The underlined comments from the first evening at New Wine were reminders of this:

I need to rediscover an ease of talking about Jesus, being natural. The words 'church' and 'christian' are so often barriers to belief.

I need to be so GRATEFUL to Jesus for all that he has done that I can't stop talking about him!

I need to fall in love with Jesus all over again - because HE is the alpha and the omega...

There is no one else like him!

The islands

I was rather intrigued by the talk on the opening evening of New Wine, by John Coles, who oversees the work of New Wine worldwide.

He talked about Martin Luther King's dream, focusing in on God's dream: how, starting with Abraham, God dreams of reaching all the nations through Jesus and his followers.

I scribbled the references down hastily, then looked them up later.

Isaiah 60, which begins with a wonderful prophecy: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. but then goes on, as do many references in Isaiah, to say: Surely the islands look to me. How I wish this to be true for Guernsey and its islands - to be full of the presence of God, focused on him and on living out His kingdom here on earth.

Psalm 86 - verse 11 stood out:
Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart,that I may fear your name.

Then, Matthew 24 verse 45 reminds me to be ready for the Lord's return: and I take this also to be ready to see what God is doing here and now, as His kingdom breaks through. Having the attitude of seeing my world through Jesus' eyes, finding meaning in the day to day minutiae of life.

Lastly, Revelation 5 verse 9 reminds us that Jesus is worthy because he has purchased us from destruction with his blood.

I don't know what the speaker was intending with these chapters: possibly a different meaning from the one I picked out. Yet, from this, I can take:

A heart for Guernsey and its people,to know Jesus.
An undivided, single-hearted heart and strength of purpose.
A devoted heart, seeing God's purposes in my world.
A humble heart, to accept Jesus' sacrifice with no sense of pride or worthiness.

Lord, send your spirit

I can't give God all of me: not everything, not all the time.
I just can't do it.

Yet I received a few words of encouragement last week.

The first was: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I am EVERYTHING. This from Revelation 21:6 and goes on to say: To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. Jesus talks about this 'water of life' - his spirit. And His Spirit is for everyone, everywhere.

Even for me. It's not a 'get and keep' Spirit, however, but a 'pass on and give' one - for blessing.

Blessing everyone, everywhere.


What has God been saying to me recently?

Well, I took copious notes during every talk or ministry opportunity at New Wine last week. I jotted down stuff from conversations. I noted anything that seemed to stand out.

This is what I found – I think. For now, anyway.

I was reminded again that God wants ALL of me. Not just a few minutes in the morning, or on a Sunday at church, but all of me all the time. My waking, my sleeping, my eating, my breathing. My reading, my writing, my tears, my laughter.

All of me, all the time.

So many aphorisms come to mind. Life isn’t a waiting room. Figure out what God is doing, then join in – enthusiastically. There is no waste in God’s kingdom.

But one in particular: the God’s kingdom is like a pearl of great price. Everything is worth giving up to get it. EVERYTHING.

That will do for now.