Who’s Watching You…?

I am a people watcher, and I know I am not the only one. While reality TV shows like Big Brother and the like do not interest me in the least, (and relax, I don’t get binoculars and peep at people through their windows or anything creepy), I get very curious about the way ‘regular’ people act in a normal surrounding; why it is they do what they do.

While observing an awkward date at a café can be amusing, there is also great benefit in watching people long-term, for it is really only then that you can sift through what is a moment of fleeting interest for them and what is a solid conviction they will hold to through thick and thin. It is only in the highs and the lows that you see their true character and motivations shine through as well as the consequences of choices made.

If I were to be watching you, what would I learn? Why is it that you do what you do? Really? Who is watching you, and what will they see both now and in the long term?

A few verses in Chapter 1 of 1 Thessalonians recently made my heart jump. “We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith,your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ .”

I read it again this way in the light of 1 Corinthians 13:13… “And these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.”

Faith –> Work

Love –> Labour

Hope –> Endurance

These Christians in Thessalonica were famous for their enduring good works in the face of hardship, but the “why” behind it all, the motivating factors behind their actions were: faith, hope and love in Jesus! How powerless, tedious, and exhausting do work, labour and endurance become when not motivated by these three elements; yet how often do we try to persevere without them leaving us only burnt out, blurred out and wondering where it all went wrong?!

Now I don’t really know who is watching me and to what extent. I don’t know for how long I’ll be an impact or how many people I am going to impact in this world, but I want to be the kind of person who is written about in Proverbs 31, (check out the podcast, ‘Ya mum’ for more on that). I want to live a life and leave a legacy that gives glory to God and inspires confidence in those who are watching and those that I leave behind. For this to be accomplished I believe I need to take to heart what is written in these few verses, and keep my focus on Jesus and the priority of faith, hope and love.

Pray with me as we begin the week in this new light:

Please God, restore my faith, hope, and love in You. May these gifts from You produce, inspire and prompt me to do things which will give You glory, and me great joy. Please give me an awareness of things which will steal my hope, cloud my faith and compromise my love, that I may bring these things to You and guard my heart with all diligence. Thank you God for the things You will accomplish through me for others to see and Praise You. Amen.

Day 15… Life Groups

You have heard it before and you will hear it again, Life groups are incredible! While Sunday Church Services and one on one mentoring are brilliant for growth, teaching and encountering God, a life group encourages you to get to the nitty gritty of  your faith, ask questions, love people, reach people and be held accountable all while encountering God with a lot of fun.

Today’s Prayer Focus for our month of Prayer and Fasting is Life Groups. We are praying and believing that God will double the number of Life Groups in 2012. If it were up to me, once you are born each and every person would be in a life group until their last breath on this earth, because they are just that good! Life Groups are “turning a love concept into a reality…”

What is different about Living Temple Life Groups?

Its not just a bible study. Studying the bible is fantastic, but unless you are understanding, believing and applying it, you are really wasting your time. Life Groups has the facilitation factor where we learn, share and challenge together, and then keep each other accountable for what we have learned.

Its an encounter. While its good to challenge each other about our faith, and encourage each other in life, if we dont encounter God then the rest is out of perspective and eventually will disappoint. There are many ways to encounter God and meet Him in worship, and while singing and such is great, life groups allow other expressions of worship to God.

Its not just a social group. While there is so much fun and raw honesty emotions and love to be experienced in a life group, it is a group with a purpose… we are growing together, and we are reaching out to help others do the same.

Its not exclusive. Its an arkward moment when you spend time with a group, clearly not ‘part of the group.’ And those experiences should not happen in Living Temple Life Groups because of the Reaching Out factor. If someone else gets to be a part of the love, and joy you experience in your group, you celebrate! And Living Temple Crew are the best Ive ever met at celebrating the growth, success and joy of others!

There is so much God will do when we allow Him, so as we lift up our groups, their leaders, their members and their loved ones in prayer, be blessed by what God can do in your life today.

Living Temple January Prayer & Fast

We are quickly approaching 2012, and while we do not know what will be waiting for us when we walk through those doors, we do know how we will be going into it… faith-filled, with expectation of a great move of God! At Living Temple we are going to approach 2012 focussed on God, drawing on Him and His strength and power, for we are the people of God and we are dedicating this year to Him. At Living Temple we are beginning 2012 with a month of Prayer and Fasting and we invite you to join us in what is bound to be a breakthrough time.

I cannot claim to be a wonderful prayer warrior or an expert on fasting (it’s a big ‘growth area’ in my life), but I feel compelled that as a church we need to set aside this time to really seek God and mature in our faith together. Our New Year’s Day Service 4pm at Elanora we will be discussing this month of Prayer and Fasting, the how to, the why, and specifics for Living Temple and invite you to join us as we do so.

So in the lead up to New Years…

  1. Ask yourself what spiritual purpose do you have for prayer/ fasting in January? Fasting in particular is a spiritual discipline, (although many do it for physical benefits), and as such it is a time to seek God (not to lose that extra Christmas pudding weight you ate). We will have a corporate prayer calendar available, but you may also want to seek personal growth in an area or simply ‘feast’ on God using a particular book (such as the bible or a guide like “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren). I suggest you discuss it with your life group life support partner/ accountability partner so they may also be praying for you.
  2. If you have medical issues and wish to fast food, talk it through with your doctor beforehand. You may need to fast something other than food, or do a partial fast, but we recommend you seek professional guidance as you do so. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, think about something other than food to fast, as it is very unwise to fast food in this time.
  3.  If you wish to join us this January in our Prayer and Fast, and you have not fasted before (and have time to read before New Years) I recommend highly “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster.
  4. For those of you who are planning on fasting food, (either a full or partial fast) for any number of days, and do not have time to read up about it before the service, I recommend you eat lighter meals the days beforehand and drink plenty of water. (Remember, the toxins you put into your body before a fast are going to be making an exit during the fast, and it will not be comfortable).
  5. We will be having a corporate prayer time each Sunday from 3:30pm (before the service) in January and we invite you to join us, they are sure to be great times of encountering God.
  6. Last but not least, keep your spiritual guard up as we go into this powerful time. Simply put, the devil hates what we will be doing here, and although what He is doing is not our focus, we must not forget that the territory we are about to storm into is ground he does not want to lose. Remember, God is more powerful, you have the Holy Spirit, angels and the church backing you up, if you need help don’t do it alone.

I’m very much looking forward to hearing all about what God is doing and saying to you through January. May God bless you, and Happy New Years!

I saw the sign

It was facing a funny way and they had deleted some spaces and letters in an attempt to fit the message in. While attempting to figure out what the sign actually said I realised I was not watching the road…

Signs are an amazing blessing to any driver, particularly if you have not been down that road before, and I find there may be very few things as frustrating as trying to get somewhere I havent been with inadequate or non existant signage. Thankfully God understands that we also need signs in life- firstly as lost people (to make us aware of our lost condition and direction to the path of salvation) but also as Christians to know we are on the right track understanding part of the kingdom of God.

With Gods availablility to give signs like the miraculous, and His heart to be reconciled to people, it may seem strange that at times Jesus refused to give miraculous signs to people who asked him for it when it seemed that it would make them believe (Matt 12:38). Why? Because He knows peoples hearts, and He knew that a pre-occupation with signs (apart from the sign of the gospel) has nothing to do with growth. The fact is, whether intrigued or put off by the supernatural, as humans we tend to allow the sign become a stumbling block as opposed to a mere function revealing the path to the actual destination… and it robs us of growth towards God. I have known people to see outrageous miraculous supernatual blessing, yet walk away from the path towards a life in fullness with Christ, and on the other hand I have known people to become obsessed with seeking the next miracle sign or wonder, believeing it is a ‘must have’ or God is not at work, and their relationship with Jesus in the every day or ordinary falls away. The sign in itself cannot save and is only as good as we follow its instruction.  

We should not need constant signs from God to know Him, love Him and obey Him just as much as we shouldnt need signs every meter of our journey on a road, you simply follow the instruction of last sign you saw. But we should not fear signs or ignore them either, for they have a purpose, revealing to the world that there is a God who is pointing us always (in both obvious and subtle ways) back to Himself, that He may recieve the glory.

 Is the sign of the gospel enough for you? Do you have a pre-occupation with signs or a fear of them? Turn your focus toward God and what He is speaking to you today, hear and obey.

The stink of bums on seats!

One of the biggest challenges I have faced since planting a life-group based church is shifting my thinking and focus from inside the church building, to outside.

I have been in traditional churches for about 9 years – 7 of them as a paid pastor –  and I need to say it’s EXTREMELY hard to shake counting “bums on seats” as a measure of success… I use the term “success” loosely.

The reality is that our life groups are absolutely charging!

  • They are growing, bearing fruit and reaching people for Jesus.
  • God is being extremely faithful and gracious…
  • God is blessing us with exactly what we were praying for.
  • People are truly living for Jesus everyday… and
  • Our Sunday celebration (although awesome) is NOT the big deal at Living Temple…

Now all I need is for old habits to die, as I yield completely to the Holy Spirit. I need my thoughts and feelings to line up with the truth.

The truth is that “bum’s on seats” is a bogus indicator potentially championed by Satan and insecure men. It causes a spirit of competition, pride and false self-worth and hinders God multiplying his church his way. In the past it has caused me to sell-out on my convictions and banter to humanistic needs instead of God’s will. Christians obsessed with “bums on seats” (as I have been before) need a reality check…it’s a joke and nobody is laughing (just my opinion).

God is growing Living Temple Church. I cannot control it, I cannot manage it, and all I can do is leave it to God who is actually able to do the job I cannot.

Please God, Kill everything in me that is not of you, and give me freedom to follow you, your way. I repent of counting numbers and choose now to humble myself and pull my head in. Thanks for understanding me God, you’re the best!

Dave

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