Monday, 9 July 2012

The Provision of God

Hi friends,

I had a lovely surprise this very afternoon as I opened up the post to find a beautiful cheque with my name written on it from the tax office!

What made this wonderful gift even more pleasing was the fact that only hours earlier I had been reading something on the provision of God and how we should always be expectant that God can (and will) provide outside of our normal revenue streams, and that when He does we should not only be thankful for the overflow but also take the opportunity to be a blessing to others.

I personally believe that the resounding message of stewardship that flows through both the Old & New Testaments is that God blesses His people, not only because He loves them but also because He wants them to be a conduit of His blessing to the surrounding people, and as they do so they are not to point to themselves but point to Him as the giver of all good things.

My observations of the Western Church in general is that it can be at times both a blessing to it's community in the way it engages with and helps to solve the problems of social and economic degradation within it's locality, but also that the Church can at times also be a cold, hard and irrelevant place that has no interest in reaching out from within it's stoney walls and presenting life giving opportunities in both word and deed to a hurting and confused world.

As Christians it is vital that our individual and corporate hearts are positioned and inclined towards being a blessing rather than to be blessed.  That our intentions are always focused away from ourselves and towards the multitudes that Jesus came to reach.  That our rhetoric (both private and public) reflects a genuine inward & heartfelt motivation to reach outward without concern for the personal cost.  That our lives don't just speak of but also display through sacrificial service that the great grace of God is not only at work within us but also through us and that it enables a new manner of living that is no longer constrained by the external expectations of the world and it's influences.

When God saturates the dry and lifeless hearts of men, women and children He does so in the hope that they too will reflect His life giving nature and direct their newfound life towards those that need refreshing, comforting, uplifting and restoring.

A pool that stays still gets stagnant, and stagnant water doesn't bring life but death.  At first appearances it may appear to be refreshing but when you get close enough to smell or taste it the stench of inactivity is unmistakable - It's offensive!

But not so with Jesus Christ - He keeps pouring out blessing over blessing as He gives good gifts to His brothers and sisters, but these gifts are primarily intended for the building up of others, not the recipients.  So it is with every good thing that God gives to His children.  They get to benefit from the gift but it is never given solely to benefit the receiver, but always with a broader purpose of bringing glory to the gift giver and bringing forth a testimony to an onlooking world of the goodness of God towards those that love Him.

My challenge to you today would be to spend some time identifying and opening up the doors of Gods blessing in your life.  Do not hold fast to the blessings that God has invited you into but rather make a conscious decision from this day forward to reposition yourself so as to be a blessing and an encouragement to those in your life with whom you have influence and favour that they too might taste of the life giving waters that Christ Himself promised to a dry and thirsty world.

John 7:37-39
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Provoked by the Voice of God

Hi friends!

One of the most challenging things I've encountered over the last few months has been the voice of God.

I'm not talking about the external, audible voice of God, please don't get me wrong!

What I mean by the voice of God is a deep sense of leading, guiding and directing that has come through a myriad of different sources, both Christian and non, that have all pointed and poked the same raw areas of my rebellious heart so as to provoke a genuine internal reaction that I just can't dismiss, avoid or escape from!

Friends hear this:  When God wants your attention He can (and will) get it!

Ever since I became a Christian (and definitely before!) I have struggled in the area of pride.  I have a tendency to convince myself that I'm right, know that I'm right and tell everyone, well, that I'm right!

My own opinions, no matter how misguided, ill-informed or unfounded can often become bastions from which I will dig in and fight to the bitter end with any and every foe that dare challenge or dare I say it, even disagree(!) with my Solomon like wisdom.

The truth be told I know little about anything - I'm a Jack of all trades but a master of none.
A generalist eagerly desiring to be a specialist, yet lacking the fortitude or resolve to really put in the time, commitment and dedication that could potentially result in a lifetime of fruitfulness as I'm too easily distracted, disinclined or demotivated to really step up to the plate and do what is needed to knock the ball out of the park.

When I stand in the presence of a Holy God I quickly become aware of my own inadequacies, insufficiencies and ineptitude.  I come to understand that I was never meant to do it on my own!

That's not how I was designed to operate and when I started to try and play the game by my own rules I should have realised that God was going to keep calling the foul until I stopped trying to run off ahead of my own accord long enough for Him to come close, pinpoint my own self-sufficiency as a faulty game-plan and point me back to the power of the resurrected Jesus as the only true way of sustaining the calling He has laid before me.

Friends, please hear this - God knows you intimately!

You may or may not be wired like me, but trust me when I say that God is so invested in you, interested in you moving forward with integrity and with steadfast character that He is willing to keep blowing the whistle at the expense of slowing down the game so that He can supernaturally coach you through the areas of life in which you just aren't quite getting how the Kingdom really outworks itself in a practical way.

You see we all have hard places, or blind-spots, where the Kingdom rule of God, the rule and reign of Christ, hasn't quite penetrated.  We all have these bastions, these places that are strongholds of wrong-thinking, malpractice or faulty ideology that hold us back and prevent us from entering into the more that God has ready and prepared for us in the place of breakthrough.

I want to ask you what is that area in your life where if you could speak it into being, God would bring radical transformation overnight?

Take a minute and think about that!  That is one of the most humble prayers you could ever put before God.

It says in Romans 12:3 that we as Christians are to judge ourselves soberly - This means that we have to have such a constant gauge on where we are  at, where we are winning, where we are failing, that we can go to God without any sense of weight or condemnation and request that He give us extra grace to overcome in the areas where we just seem to struggle time and time again.

The great news is that there is a promise of breakthrough for you!

God doesn't intend for you to stay standing in the same place, gazing into a mirror of self-pity and regret that you just can't seem to scale the wall that your circumstances or your choices have placed in-front of you.  God has firmly promised you the power that is available through faith in the life of the resurrected Jesus Christ that will enable you to overcome and scale any obstacle as long as you keep your eyes and your heart fixed firmly on Him.

Pause for a minute and take some time to take stock of where you are at in your life right now...

Turn off the TV, turn down the mp3 player and get yourself into a quiet place, isolated from the busyness of life...

Take some time to give thanks to God for all the great things He has done in your life.  For your friends, your family, the people that He has placed around you to support you, for the journey He has taken you on thus far...

Then take a few minutes to soberly judge yourself before Him.
Remember that in the presence of a Holy God there is no place for condemnation, there is no sense of guilt or shame, but an invitation into freedom and joy!

Lay the things down that have been getting in the way of what God is trying to do both in you and through you.  Visualise yourself physically offering them up to Him and ask Him to exchange them for Heavenly peace and joy that can only be graced through the power of the Holy Spirit.

God is there, both ready and waiting to release you from the chains of oppression that the devil, the world and your own sinful nature have managed to shackle you into.
True freedom is yours, it is a right and a privilege of being a child of God, you only need take the next steps and walk right into it!

Settle for nothing less than the full and total freedom that the Father has made available to you through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Friends, this is a new day, and God is ready and waiting for you!


Gordon Watson

Sunday, 29 January 2012

I Will Not Be Mastered By Anything

Hello friends,

It's been a while since I last blogged on here, but I thought this was something that might be interesting to share before I actually start.

As part of my meeting up with Dale Barlow (Kings Church, Oxted) we talk about lots of things around my personal walk with God.

Dale mentors me and encourages me to push myself in different areas, and as a result of a recent conversation we had I've taken up the challenge of spending the next 30 days with an aim to loosening the grip of everything that comes with 'being connected'.

I'm someone that lives pretty much most of my waking moments connected to the internet via emails, social networking sites, reading books, listening to music, watching films/TV, catching up on news - Many of you may be able to relate to this type of lifestyle, which in and of itself isn't wrong!

However of late I've really noticed a shift in my patterns of life and relating with God, spending time worshipping Him, and mostly it's been a negative shift as other things have taken the prominent and pre-eminent place in my life.

Don't get me wrong - I love God, I love His presence, I'm not at all suggesting I'm having a crisis of faith, but I am so aware that unless I take some form of drastic action I could set myself down a path that will ultimately lead to spiritual drift and a loss of the things that are important to me and that I really should be doing all I can to protect and develop my spiritual disciplines.

On Tuesday, 31st January 2012 I'm going to start a 30 day personal technology fast.

Here is a brief list of the plan of action:

  • Going to use a cheap mobile phone without internet access - My iPhone will be relegated to being used solely for groups txts for Church events - This can only be done during office hours.  I will disable it's ability to retrieve and respond to emails too.
  • No use of the internet for personal reasons at any time - Eg, looking up news, youtube, blogging, etc...
  • No personal use of social networking sites at any time - Facebook, Twitter
  • No use of laptop or smartphone outside of work hours - The only time I will be using these is for work activity, during work hours.
  • No retrieving or responding to personal or work related emails on laptop outside of working hours.
My intention during this period is to free up some time and to take my focus away from 'being connected' and to get my focus back completely on God in worship, in prayer, in reflection and in journaling.

At present, when I wake up between 6-7am the very first thing I do is check the news, check my Facebook and Twitter, check my emails - This is a routine that happens daily and can sometimes take up to an hour of my time.

For a while now I've not been happy or content at doing this, but I can't seem to help myself!

My counsel to others would be that they give God their first fruits of the day, but in practice I'm finding I have relegated God from His rightful place in my life and I'm hoping that having a sustained period of reforming this area of my life will have a great impact not only in my personal walk with God but also in helping me focus in on other areas during the week.

Please pray for me as I do this!  Just the thought of doing this brings me out in a cold sweat, but this reaction in itself tells me that it's probably a good reason to do it.

The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:12:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything."
We have the right to do what we want when we want, but as soon as our freedom to choose actually enslaves us to something then we have to respond with drastic action - We can't allow ourselves as Christians to be mastered by anything other than Christ.

Dale has challenged me to take action, to re-prioritize my life, but not with technology and the internet at the centre, but with Jesus firmly set as the cornerstone upon which the rest of my life is built.

As Mark Driscoll would say:
"I've taken a good thing (being connected), made it a god thing, and now it's a bad thing!"
So if you are someone that would normally see me on Facebook, Twitter or the email please understand that for the next month I'm gonna be avoiding my usual haunts across the internet and will hopefully be found in the courts of the King getting reacquainted with the one that is the Lord of my life.

See you on the other side!