23 January 2017

Good Success vs Bad Success

Is there such a thing of ‘bad success’?

It sounds like an oxymoron, like cleaning dirt. Why would anyone come up with such a concept? Does it really matter and what does it mean to have bad success? These are the thoughts that have plagued my mind recently at the start of twenty-seventeen.

Everyone wants to be successful but success at the expense of integrity and rooted in selfishness will never last long. Too many shortcuts and ignoring the advice of trusted counsellors and bad success will eventually do more harm than good.

Luke 9:25 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world and yet forfeit their own soul?

Good success can be completing high school, earning a degree, or marrying your best friend. Then there is learning a trade, getting out of your comfort zone, travelling the world, helping a stranger and committing to eating heathy.  Any form of positive learning, growing, responsibility and investment can be termed as good success.

Bad success can be the promotion at the expense of close friends, finances over family, or that hobby at the cost of time a relationship. Too much power, sex and money have led many a man to ruin.

Bad success is what leads to addictions, broken relationships and self destruction. Investing too much time in talent over character will eventually result in the talent leading you to a place your character will never be able to support you.

A father can be a great provider for his family as a workaholic, but starve them of valuable time and attention. Perhaps the greatest struggle of our generation currently is the obsession of social media, which is leading to proven cases of isolation and mental health at an alarming rate.

As a Christian, good success is living a life that honours Christ, which seeks first the Kingdom of God and looks to the needs of others. Disciplining our time in prayer, scripture, worship and church community is not just a good idea or recommendation; Jesus warned against us gaining the things of this world at the expense of our soul, the greatest loss we could ever lose!

Any pursuit at the expense of your character, relationships, health or faith can be deemed not only bad success but dangerous success. Some things in life are priceless and should be guarded at all costs, irrespective of the culture around us.


Our time, attention and priorities determine what we choose to value most in life. Choose today to be focused on only good success for your life. You won’t regret it.

20 October 2016

Failure

The New England Patriots had a perfect undefeated season in 2007.

They had won 18 games in a row and were considered by analysts as the greatest team in NFL history. Despite being overwhelming favourites to win the final, they lost narrowly to the New York Giants 14-17. When it came to the game that mattered most, I always wondered that if they had lost a game previously which didn’t matter, if it would have won them the Super Bowl when it counted. 

Failure is a fact of life and has a negative stigma to western societies. However, failure is a great teacher and only afterwards do we become greater learners. Failure helps us discover more about ourselves and forces us to make necessary changes. And failure can teach us that we are human and are not perfect no matter how good and perfect we think we are.

Failure is an event, never a person. It is only when you stop, throw in the towel, refuse to learn and quit does failure win. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently”. Failure doesn’t mean the game is over, it means try again with experience

Failure is an important stepping stone to greatness. Thomas Edison famously took 10,000 attempts to create the lightbulb. Did it really matter that it took so many attempts? That actually sounds like a lot. But he later said “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”.

Proverbs 24:16 – For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again. But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.

Sometimes the harder you fall, the stronger you rise. Failure is never final if we are persistent and courageous to keep going not matter the opinions of others. FAIL is spelt “First - Attempt - In - Learning”.

Someone who has never failed has never learned. I can learn more from one failure than 10 success stories. Why? Because I am forced to rethink my values and beliefs, and to be creative in finding new ways to achieve my objective.


Failure only defines people if they make what they do apart of their identity. If what they do matters more than who they are, they are in big trouble. For no matter how good you are, the day will come when you fail and it will feel like your world is falling apart! 

Today, don’t ever believe that failure is a failure of who you are and your identity. See it positively as a learning experience which is setting you up for the moments that really count, so you can lift your own personal Super Bowl.  

31 August 2016

Integrity

Integrity is a big word missing these days...

One definition of integrity is “The quality or state of being of sound moral principle, uprightness, honesty and sincerity”. Integrity is keeping a commitment even after circumstances have changed. And it is practising honesty and uprightness in our everyday lives.


If we all practised integrity each and every day in our relationships and workplaces, what could the world look like? There would be fewer violence, fraud, crime and hate. And there would be less immorality, deception and evil in this world.

Integrity is to live out your life in private in the same way you live your life in public. And it always comes back to our character. And character is the sum total of all your habits, either good or bad.

Proverbs 10:9 Whoever walks with integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out.

Now integrity can be subjective based on ethics, culture and opinion. But the word of God paints a clear picture of what integrity looks like and how it is practised.

Integrity is a combination of character qualities based on the word of God. It is honesty, faithfulness, trustworthy, reliable, obedience, kindness, selfless love, self controlled, responsible and generous.

Christians are called to a high standard before God and man. To walk the walk and talk the talk. It is about being a credible witness and that your faith is not only a belief but an everyday action. Practically, it is speaking the truth, acting honourably, giving honour to others, and to love one another sincerely.

The opposite of integrity is lying, stealing, cheating or choosing evil over good. It is being unethical, deceptive and immoral, either in private or public. A word that sums up all of these is hypocrisy which is to know something and to speak against something but doing it anyway.


Just because we fall once doesn’t make us a hypocrite. That’s what God’s grace and mercy are for. But when it becomes a lifestyle, that is completely different.

Daniel 6:3-4 says, Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities (excellent spirit) that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.

Daniel was an elderly man at this stage of his life and scripture mentions he had an excellent spirit. This means he was set apart for God, faithful, a man of prayer and above reproach. He not only prospered but gave glory to God in a pagan land which had no choice but to see that Daniel’s God was the true and living God.


Bill Johnson once said “When you steward something faithfully increase will naturally follow”. Actively choose to practice integrity today; you might be surprised what happens. 

27 June 2016

Seek First the Kingdom of God

The Cologne Cathedral is an amazing piece of architecture today.

And what makes it so incredible is that it took 632 years to build! Frederick II, one of the most powerful Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages, wanted it to be the main place of worship in the country and possibly Europe. Halted during the sixteenth century, the construction was completed in 1880 according to the original plan.


Towering above the city skyline to this day, the building owes its overwhelming grandeur to its meticulous design and execution over the centuries. Even with modern engineering and materials, it would be impossible to duplicate the Cologne Cathedral. Today it is Germany’s most visited landmark and attracts an average 20,000 people per day!

Mathew 6:33 - Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.....

Imagine being part of something incredible, knowing that you would never see its completion? To labour for a lifetime that your father laboured for his lifetime, and his father before. And your children would labour for their lifetime, not knowing if it would ever be completed.

The completion and restoration of this beautiful place of worship depended on the patient skill of countless and nameless individuals who knew that they would never see its finish. 

That takes a lot of faith, and it’s the same with us when we are building the Kingdom of God. We who labour faithfully in our local church for years on end may never see its end, except in heaven when we are rewarded by God for our obedience and sacrifice. 


28 April 2016

Create in Me a Clean Heart

We live in a highly sexualised society today with destructive implications for the Christian faith.

According to a recent Barna research study, the ease of access to the internet and mobile phones “have fundamentally changed the landscape of pornography, and ushered it into the cultural mainstream where it enjoys increasingly widespread acceptance.”

Viewing porn has become socially acceptable in our culture today, particularly among teens and young adults. Consider the following:

·         54% of adults 25+ say viewing porn is wrong, and among teens and young adults 13-24, only 32% say viewing porn is wrong
·         57% young adults seek out porn either daily, weekly or monthly
·         About two in five Christians say they are comfortable looking at porn, compared to nearly seven in 10 among all teens and adults. They are also about twice as likely to say they’d like to stop (40%) than to say they’d like to use less (21%)

The lie of our culture whispers that everyone else has it better, the grass is always greener, or we missed out somehow. As access to pornography has increased, the stigma toward it also decreasing at an alarming rate. The Ashley Madison website spectacle, where users names where leaked to the world, is only the beginning.

At any given church service, do not be surprised that at least over half the male population are hiding a double life of viewing pornography. It is a deceptive, twisted and evil trap of the devil, and an open door for him to work destruction in our lives. Pornography is the devil’s last end time’s weapon he uses to keep Christians in sin and separated from God.

Proverbs 12:28 
In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immorality.

Regardless of the ease of access to sexual immorality, God’s standards have not changed. He still expects His people to live pure lives, be holy and to reject the temptation of sin.

Our heart condition is very important to God. Scripture says, “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Holiness is to be separated for God and a holy and ready vessel He can use. It is not in our ability to attain but a mighty work God does within us through His imputed grace and spirit.

The cry of David’s prayer in Psalm 51 was “Create in me a clean heart O’ God, renew a right spirit in me.” No matter how ingrained in sin we become, the power of God can restore, renew and cleanse us if we repent and are willing to change. God’s grace is not a licence to sin but an opportunity to get it right.

The battle for our hearts between purity and immorality will not stop in this world. The war between the flesh and spirit is a personal choice we must take responsibility for. Every time we fail simply go back to the throne of grace in prayer, seek God’s forgiveness and mercy, get up and try again. 1 John 1:9 promises us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Do not forget that we don’t pray from a place of defeat but should pray from a place of victory! The Holy Spirit in us and God’s imputed grace gives us the power to overcome temptation, sin and all sexual immorality.

Pray from a place of victory today, and desire to become all God created you to be from a place of a pure heart.


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31 March 2016

Foolishness of the Gospel

Easter is great time to truly reflect on the Christian faith and its implications for us today.

Why God would send His Son to be crucified by His own creation for our place of condemnation on the cross to bring about our salvation is a profound mystery in many ways. 

It baffles human wisdom and logic on every level. No matter how the salvation story is interpreted, Paul was correct when he called it the “foolishness of the gospel”, bringing either offense or ridicule from the world (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

But in the divine wisdom of God, this was His chosen method of salvation to mankind. That only the humble and “foolish” would accept this great salvation into their hearts and admit their need for a Saviour. 

At one point in time the disciples asked Jesus how is it possible that a man can be saved? To which Jesus responded what is impossible for man is possible for God. Clearly our sin and separation from God was so immense and dreadful, which if given serious thought could radically change our personal lives if we let it.

John 12:23-26
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me”.

The theme of the cross will always be present in our personal lives as Christians. Seasons of struggle, suffering and (figuratively speaking) death will be a constant reality whether we like it or not. But this is a beautiful thing and not to be disregarded. There are areas in our lives like selfishness and sin which need death daily, and character flaws of pride, lust, greed and unforgiveness that can take over our lives if not truly repented of.

Death has a way of removing things in our lives that need to go which we can not do in our own strength. Like dying to self in our attitudes and habits. Death to self when forgiving others graciously when wronged. Death to self of sacrificial love. And death to the idols of our hearts and sinful nature which forever wars against our spirit. Diseases to our soul like apathy, laziness and pride which can be replaced with righteous zeal, fruitfulness and humility when a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and…. if it dies produces many seeds.

But after death is glorious resurrection. When we have hit rock bottom, the mighty power of God resurrects us. Our dreams are given new life. We are thankful instead of ungrateful. We value life instead of take it for granted. And we become better and stronger people that God can use, mature and holy vessels ready for every good work.

There can be no resurrection without death and what has died produces new life in our lives and relationships. And some areas need death if we are to move forward into the plans of God for our lives. Jesus gave us His example and as His disciples we are to follow in them.


May the theme of the cross be ever present in your life, so that the glorious resurrection within you may come and new life can begin!


31 December 2015

Work in Progress

There are some areas of our lives which are a finished product, and then there are others which are obviously a work in progress....

A construction building is usually covered in scaffolding and building equipment, which has great potential to become something amazing. Its end purpose is to be a finished product and to look exactly like what the architect designed it to be.


Philippians 1:6
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

As Christians, becoming like Jesus is a long, slow and painful process of growth. Spiritual maturity and our personal development are to be our greatest goals, which will take the rest of our lives.

I have found that God is more interested in our character than our work, finances or relationships, because at the end of the day, we will take only our character into eternity. Everything else we need follows on the footsteps of character formed into Christlikeness, faith and maturity.


God’s timing is usually based on whether we are ready in our heart and attitudes before He releases us into important seasons of responsibility. How long we wait usually isn’t because God is asleep or behind schedule – but because He is waiting on us to grow up.

What areas in your life is a finished product and what is still a work in progress? How is your faith, patience, generosity and capacity? Or how about love for others, work ethic, finances and social skills? If you need a good list to see where you are at, check out Paul’s words in Romans 12:9-13:

·         Love must be sincere.
·         Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
·         Be devoted to one another in love.
·         Honour one another above yourselves.
·         Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
·         Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
·         Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
·         Practice hospitality.

It is a beautiful day when a believer grows up into all that God created them to be. When they stand strong, confident and living in the fullness of their freedom in Christ. What today might be a weakness, we are promised God can turn into our strength by his empowering and renewing grace (2 Cor 12:9).

Philippians 2:13 
For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purposes.