Day 20: “Put It Into Practise”

intentionalEat less. Exercise more. That’s how you lose weight. Spend less, save more. Have a nest egg for retirement. Doing things with purpose means accomplishing your goals. Your time of prayer and fasting was calculated. You were intentional in your sacrifice. You spent time praying specifically over these last three weeks.

Considered meditation on the things near to your heart has brought you closer to Jesus.

Let the rest of 2018 be a continuation of the progress you have made. Keep putting into practise what you have begun. Let the nourishment you have received for your spirit propel you forward and become the floor for your next layer of growth. Exercise your spiritual muscles by concentrating on what you’ve learnt.

Don’t fall into neglect, rather launch yourself into everything God has for you.

You’re just getting started!

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practise what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies” (Philippians 4:8-9).

 

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Growing Up

Having two toddlers in our home makes for busy days full of laughter, imaginary friends and pets, picky eating, and TANTRUMS!  Our almost-two-year old, Samuel, has two favourite words: “mine,” and “no.”  He is exerting his independence and the battle for control is raging.  Many times, he sits down and looks the other way when given a direction he doesn’t want to take.  I can beg, coax, bribe, demand all I want, but he is not cooperating.  He may kick and scream as I practically drag him where I want him to go.  Although this behaviour is quite annoying and tests my patience and every other fruit of the spirit when it happens, it’s all a part of growing up.  Sam is still young.  He drinks milk with every meal.  He takes a dummy (pacifier for my American readers) to soothe himself to sleep.

Sam doesn’t have enough experience yet to understand consequences for his behavior, although he is learning.  He doesn’t have enough maturity to know everything isn’t all about him and that he doesn’t get whatever he wants on demand.  In time, my expectation as a mother is that he WILL get control of his emotions; he WILL obey me when I ask him to do something; he WILL share and cooperate with his siblings even when he doesn’t like it.

As a Christian, it’s important that we grow up in our faith.  In the church, childish behaviour can be quite prevalent if we allow it.  We fall into the trap of “consumerism Christianity” where we go to church to be entertained; we judge everything according to our likes and dislikes: how loud is the music? How much fun did our kids have in service?  We join a small group so we can socialize with other “believers” and we only like sermons that make us feel good.  We take what we feel we deserve to get from it, never realizing our part to play.  Then, if we aren’t satisfied with something… if the pastor offends us… if we are being challenged to grow up, we quit.  We quit on church, or even worse, we quit on God.

That’s like a tantrum.

Like Saul just before his radical conversion, Jesus is telling us not to “kick against the goads.”  If we realize we have a greater purpose than ourselves, we might understand he has a job for us. Jesus has handpicked us to be servants and witnesses to what’s happened in our lives (Acts 26:16).  In other words, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!”

How many times does God have to say it to get our attention?  Let us not be like Samuel, needing Mum to go over the basics again and again.  The writer of Hebrews says that we keep needing baby’s milk when we should have been on solid food long ago.  “Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.”  This was written to Hebrew Christians who were struggling embracing their faith in Christ, leaning back to their Jewish roots. They needed encouragement on the implications of following him and growing up in their faith.

A milk based Christian diet is BORING and BLAND!  God wants each of us to go deeper than where we are currently with him. He wants our witness to bear some fruit that has eternal impact and our life to be devoted to him.  Unlike me in my parenting, however, God doesn’t drag us where he wants us to go.  He allows us the choice to either stay where we are or to mature into all that he has planned for us.

God doesn’t want us to re-live one year’s lessons over and over so that we find ourselves the same person in a decade, just 10 years older.  

Let us not spend our lives missing the point of our salvation.  Simply ticking the box to get into heaven isn’t enough for mature Christian living.  Let’s look beyond ourselves and serve others.  Learn to give and take in our marriages.  Gain a deeper understanding of His word; experience closer intimacy with him.

When we walk with God keeping eternity in mind, we actually lead the way for others to know Him.  No one would model their lives after a two year old nor would they let Sam lead the way or give advice on any topic.  Let us not have the same reputation and

Grow Up Together.

Preparing the Way

Just as God sent John the Baptist to “prepare the way” for Jesus on this earth, we are continually amazed at what God has and is preparing for us in Australia.  As we are stepping out to follow God’s voice for our future church plant, we have discovered some exciting things about the Hunter region where we are going.  With an approximate population of 645,000 people, this area extends from the North side of Sydney about 75 miles.  The city of Newcastle and Lift Church are going to be centrally located within this area.

When we picked the place we wanted to re-locate and plant our church, we asked God to close the doors if He didn’t want us there.  So far, there have been nothing but green lights.  We never had any super-spiritual reasons for choosing it.  We like where it is on the map in relation to Greg’s family and Sydney.  We like the population, weather, and proximity to the ocean.  That’s about it.  Well, we are continuing to be amazed by how much God is positioning us for an exciting time in the region.

While visiting Australia last month, everywhere we went, people were raving about the Newcastle economy and growth.  We found out 200,000 people are predicted to move to the Hunter region in the next decade.  Housing developments are thriving out West of Newcastle with projected growth in just one suburb already mapped out for the next seven years.  The mining industry is booming.  As a matter of fact, this was the front page of the newspaper the saturday before we left:  

The article says “the Hunter is defying an alarming industry trend to cement its position as the most productive region in Australia.”  While 53,000 people lost manufacturing jobs in 12 months across Australia, 4000 have gained a job in this sector in the greater Newcastle area during the same 12 months.

It is exciting to be in a city where there’s a buzz and energy about the future.  People love living there and are positive about the years to come.  The economy is thriving and there is an undercurrent of something great that you can “feel” in the city.

The growing economy is just one area God is touching in the region.  He is laying the groundwork and “going before us” to prepare the way for people to hear the Good News about Jesus Christ.  The Bible promises that the LORD himself goes before us and will be with us. It says he will never leave us nor forsake us (Deut. 31:8).    We are continually being reminded that this endeavor is not about us. God is moving in Australia.  Revival is coming.  We are just being allowed to be a part of it.  Rather than looking at what we are doing as a way to pat ourselves on the back for our great faith, or to promote ourselves as church leaders, I am daily being humbled at the fact that God would choose us to play a small part in what He is doing in the Hunter region.  We declare the promises of Isaiah 55 that we “will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.”