A few years ago God spoke to me about entering a new season.I was soon to hit the big `50` but also sensed that following Jesus for over 40 years and serving in leading worship,youth and a home group a change in direction was coming.He challenged me that as you mature you have a choice to be either a critic or coach.As you get older both physically and spiritually the attitudes you form have an effect and impact on both yourself and others around you.
In the `middle age` sometimes you can become `set in your ways`,critical or judgemental of the next generation.Yes and be quick to offer correction or murmur in your heart-`that`s not the way it should be done` or `they should conduct themselves in such and such a manner`.I remember Rick Godwin saying you can either be a fireman or a coach.The fireman puts fires out.You can dampen the fire of passion in the next generation by continually criticising,making judgemental remarks or corrections.The coach however while at times corrects,gives advice and does so with the purpose of encouraging,building up and getting the best out of the player.
How often do you hear the football fans shouting critical abuse from the Stands at the failure of players.The Coach however at half time will yes challenge bad play,change tactics but also encourage and motivate with the objective to see the team go out and win.The challenge for those mature is to be a coach not a critic.To draw alongside others and encourage,motivate,build up,share wisdom,pray for and be available to support.A bit like a father son relationship.The father who loves his son will do all to bring out the best in his son and see him find and fulfil his own (that is the sons own) destiny.In the New Testament Paul had such a relationship with Timothy.He also told Titus to call on the older men and women to teach younger men and women.Similiarly the coach often once a player will take the wisdom they learned from both experiences-successes and mistakes passing it on to the player.
What are you? A critic or coach? Be a Barnabas-an encourager.He took Saul who became Paul in his early days in ministry when others were suspicious of him.Barnabas worked alongside him planting churches and teaching believers.Draw alongside others and encourage them to fulfil the works God has prepared for them.
When it comes to worshipping God corporately as His church Christians have often debated on whether it should be to a set pattern and plan or left open and spontaneous.As individuals should we have set times or prayer like first thing in the morning or just pray as we live life such as when driving the car or as needs arise.Why not both? Worship which is scheduled and spontaneous.Here is a parallel…It is important for husbands and wives as their lives become busy to set aside time to be together alone.Hectic lifestyles develop with work,kids,house and hobbies so it`s necessary for couples to have time for each other.Date nights for continued friendship,fun,communication and intimacy.A time to show worth and value to the other and not allowing other things or people get in between and cause a distant relationship.Believers who love God with all their heart and follow Jesus Christ soo too should spend time alone with Him.Don`t allow others or things cause our relationship with Him become distant.God first.Show Him value and worth settting time to be alone with Him.Worship God not just in the company of others eg church but alone.Intimate fellowship with Him-speaking,hearing,seeing and sometimes just being in His presence.We call it sometimes personal devotion or `quiet time` but it`s time alone one to one.
Back to the parallel – for a couple however set date nights can become just a routine and another thing on the calendar.For couples it is so important to have those spontantaneous times when off the cuff they do something together.Seizing the moment,springing a surprise,going or doing something not been or done before.Quite often those spontaneous intimate times together are remembered and cherished as special.In our relationship with God we too will remember those spontaneous times when we get alone with God.A time when we walk in the woods and talk,lift an instrument play and sing new songs,shout aloud to God on top of a mountain or suddenly stop the car and begin to write down what He says to us.Unplanned and unsheduled but prompted by a desire within for intimate worship.
Corporately when the church meets leaders lead worship having prepared,ready and planned hymns and spiritual songs.I`ve learned God directs our plans when we invite Him to give us wisdom and direction but also we need to give Him space.There are times for the spontaneous allowing the Spirit to do as He wills,making room for gifts of the Spirit.Such moments produce new songs and a “now” Word from God.Specific for the moment.
In our worship of God both individualy and corporately make room for the scheduled and spontaneous in our lives.Enjoy the benefits and priviledge of knowing Him.
It goes without saying the greatest book or library of books is the Bible.God reveals Himself to man.Given by the inspiration of God,full of instruction,teaching,correction,direction and equips.2TIM.3:16,17.The Psalmist in Psalm119 describes its excellence.Love,read,meditate,sing,hear,keep and do it.Like water in a desert,a light in darkness and sweeter than honey is Gods Word.What is your favourite verse or passage??? It is always the last one God recently has spoken to me through.The one that stirs my spirit,grabs my heart,captivates my mind and fires a passionate delight for Him. As you walk with God there grows numerous favourites.
There are other books that have left an impression or made an impact on my life to some degree or other.The following I would recommend worth a read.The list is not exhaustive and does not mean I necessarily agree with everything the writer teaches or believes.Check them out…
THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN BIRTH David Pawson
THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE Watchman Nee
THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE Rick Warren
EXPERIENCING GOD Henry T Blackaby/Claude V King
DESTINED FOR THE THRONE Paul E Billheimer
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN YOU Dennis/Rita Bennett
THE RADICAL CHRISTIAN Arthur Wallis
VICTORY OVER DARKNESS Neil T Andreson
BECOMING A CONTAGIOUS CHRISTIAN Bill Hybels/Mark Mittelberg
TOUCHING THE INVISIBLE Norman Grubb
THE PURSUIT OF GOD A W Tozer
SURPRISED BY THE VOICE OF GOD Jack Deere
GODS CHOSEN FAST Arthur Wallis
THINKING FOR A CHANGE John C Maxwell
YOUR MONEY COUNTS Mark Lloydbottom
THE PILGRIM CHURCH E H Broadbent
THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN CHURCH Watchman Nee
SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP J Oswald Sanders
THE MAKING OF A LEADER Frank Damazio
RESTORATION IN THE CHURCH Terry Virgo
WHAT ON EARTH THIS KINGDOM? Gerald Coates
RAIN FROM HEAVEN Arthur Wallis
THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE BIBLE John Rea
UNLOCKING THE BIBLE David Pawson
THE SPIRITUAL MAN Watchman Nee
CHRIST THE HEALER F F Bosworth
WHAT WIVES WISH THEIR HUSBANDS KNEW ABOUT WOMAN James Dobson
THE SIXTY MINUTE MARRIAGE Rob Parsons
THE SIXTY MINUTE FATHER Rob Parsons
THE RAPTURE Richard R Reiter/Paul D Feinberg/Gleason L Archer/Douglas Moo
THE MEANING OF THE MILLENNIUM EDITOR:Robert G Clouse
REVELATION FOUR VIEWS : PARALLEL COMMENTARY EDITOR:Steve Gregg
During life at times we face situations in relationships,family,work,finances,church and ministry when we just do not know what to do.We either don`t know what choice to make or there is a lack of them.Sometimes we know what to do but questioning ourselves we end up being convinced we really don`t know what to do.So what should we do?
image courtesy of Stuart Mlies at FreeDigitalPhotos.com
Don`t panic,quit,run or hide.When in the dark reach out to God in trust.A child in uncertain surroundings slips their hand into their parents hand in trust.PSA.37:3,5 Trust in God….feed on His faithfulness….commit you way to the Lord.Trust also in Him.PRV.3:5,6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart.Lean not on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
We often focus on the problem of not knowing,over thinking it or we ask others including family and friends accumulating `opinions` BEFORE we ask God.Ask God FIRST.God does not want to keep you in the dark. JAS.1:5If any of you lack wisdom let him ask God who gives liberally.
3.DO WHAT GOD LAST TOLD YOU.
Do not let what you don`t know paralyse you from doing what you do know already to do.Whatever He has already revealed to you keep doing it.It is easier to steer a ship when it is moving. JAS.1:25 Don`t be a forgetful hearer.Be a doer.
4.MAJOR ON YOUR STRENGTHS.
What are you good at and what do you enjoy?God has given you talents and gifts that are unique to you.Spend your time on your strengths.Follow the 80/20% rule.Spend 80% of your time on your top 20% activities-John Maxwell.1COR.12:7,11 The Holy Spirit has given each of us gifts. Everything made has a purpose.The way you are is for the why you are. Eph.2:10 You are His workmanship and He has works prepared for you.
5.LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE.
Did I face this situation before?What worked?What mistakes did I make?Broaden your experience by learning from the experience of others.Receive insight from those who are a stage ahead of you.Learn from others successes and from their mistakes.John Maxwell-Make it a goal to find people who will add value to you in areas that are important to you. PROV.27:17 Iron sharpens iron. There are two types of people.Those who take and learn from instructions and those who have to learn by making their own mistakes.I would rather learn from others and their mistakes.
6.INCREASE YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF GODS WORD.
Knowledge is power-it increases options,possibilities and the ability to make choices.Know nothing=nothing.How strong is Gods Word in our lives?Read,speak,sing,study and meditate on Gods Word.JOSH.1:8 msg.Don`t for a minute let this book of revelation be out of your mind.Ponder meditate on it day and night making sure you practice everything in it.Then you will get where you are going then you`ll succeed.Without answers you will stay in the dark. PSA.119:105 Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.2TIM.3:16 All Scripture is God breathed profitable for showing truth,correcting
mistakes,providing training and instruction in living Gods way.My dad always said that the Bible was the best Citizen Advice Bureau.Kingdom answers for everyday life.Col.3:16 Let the Word of God dwell in you richly.
7.GET TO KNOW GOD.
Spend time in His presence getting to know God,His nature and heart.Intimacy with God.Worship Him.As you spend time in His company the Holy Spirit will form His character in you guiding you in making decisions.Similarly as a couple get to know each other they become `one flesh` and even when one alone faces a situation they often will know what the other would do in it.The Holy Spirit who is in you will search the deep things of God and teach you. 1COR.2:9-16.Often a married couple will know by the `look` in the eye of their partner what they are saying without them speaking a word.Psa.32:8-9 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.I will guide you with My eye.
YOU CANNOT DECLARE THE LAW OF GOD WITHOUT THE DEMONSTRATION OF THE LOVE OF GOD.
Preachers often declare Gods Law pointing out right from wrong and the consequences.In some parts of the world we try to legislate right standards to deter us from evil doing and make us a better person or country.The Law is good but it doesn`t make us better,it shows us we fall short and fail.Even when we try to do good we don`t and what we don`t want to do we do.We need rescued from ourselves and then also there are the consequences for breaking the Law.The good news is there is hope.God loved us even while we failed Him and sent His Son Jesus Christ to take our punishment for breaking the Law..He gives us a new life.He forgives and rescues us when we turn to Him in faith.The Law is not and end in itself but it leads us to Christ,We need Him.Just to declare the Law of God without the demonstration of Gods love in Jesus is only half the truth.The love of God in Jesus gives us a new life with a new nature having a desire and power to obey and follow Gods ways. ROM.3-8 ; GAL.3.
In my late teens speaking to a church group in Tilbury, East London I remember outlining valid ways in which to express praise and worship to God.I gave Biblical examples of singing,shouting,clapping,lifting hands,playing musical instruments,bowing,dancing and leaping for joy.Afterwards an elderly woman approached me and commented,`Son it was good to hear Scriptural encouragement to express praise God in various ways but….` and I waited for the `but`….she continued`when you are in love with Jesus you will automatically express praise to God in those varying ways anyway.`It hit me ! I was trying to encourage and justify ways to express praise to God.I learned a lesson not to forget `Worship flows from a love relationship`.You do not have to encourage or prompt `the Kop` at Anfield to sing,shout and clap for Liverpool.The fans do it because they are passionate about football and their team.When you fall in love with someone you want to be in their presence,praise and show acts of kindness towards them.No wonder Jesus taught that the greatest and most important commandment is `to love God with all your heart,soul and mind and to love others` Matt.22:37-40 Deut.6:5 Acts of worship are to be carried out from a heart of desire and not out of duty.Believe in Jesus?The love of God has been poured into your heart. Rom.5:5. Love Him passionately and a life of worship will follow.Worship flows from a love relationship not a routine ritual.It is easy to respond to the love of someone and God loves you with an unmeasurable , unending and unmerited love.I love Him because He first loved me. 1John4:19. Jesus desires His people to open up their hearts and have fellowship with Him. Rev.3:20 ; John14:23 In a husband and wife relationship there are planned times to be alone together and to show affection but those spontaneous intimate moments are even more special.So too in our love relationship with God there is both a place for planned and spontaneous worship.It is not about our performance but our passsionate love for Him.He is the centre of our affections.Delight in the Lord.
My wife is called Shirley and I have a son called Daniel and daughters Grace and Lucy.We are related but we have more – we are friends, share, companionship -spend time with each other. God is looking for more than relationship He wants friendship/fellowship and not just emergency meetings-Lord I`m in trouble help me! or Lord I need….God wants to spend time with us.He wants us to spend time with Him.Jesus spent time alone with His Father.Jesus did not speak His own words but what His Father gave Him. Also He did what He saw His Father doing.John 5:19,20 ; 12:49 ; 14:10.Jesus speaking to a lukewarm church wanted more than a relationship in title but to have intimate fellowship.Rev.3:20 Behold I stand at the door and knock.If anyone hears My voice and opens the door I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me. Jesus said if we love Him He and the Father would make their home with us. John 14:23. God not only wants be be a Father to us but to walk among us. 2Cor.6:16.Enoch walked with God. Do you want to go on a walk?
When we go on a walk with someone we-
1.Set time aside for their company. God called Moses apart. Ex19.Separate from others and stuff. Spent time in Gods company.
2.Give attention to them.Things are happening around you traffic etc but you are together.
3.Walk and talk. Prayer is simply talking to God. Speak to Him.
4.Be yourself.When you walk and talk to a friend you don`t use fancy language or well picked words.Down to earth natural normal speech.Not all religious.
5.Listen.Nothing worse than spending time with someone who does all the talking and never listens to what you have to say.Talk to God and shut up. Listen. Learn to recognise the voice of the Holy Spirit.
6.No alternative motives.Yes its good to go for a walk with someone to get advice or get something off your chest but its good to walk and talk just for simple friendship.Tell Him you love Him.
IS HE CALLING YOU FOR A WALK AND TALK? The hand of the Lord was upon me there and He said to me Arise go out into the plain and their I shall talk with you. Eze 3:22