Upgrade Me

Birthday Photo

Well its been a most wonderful week- my family, friends and students spoiled me incredibly and now I am the proud owner of some stunning pearl earrings and a pearl necklace which came in a little blue bag . Three friends and one sister flew from interstate to help me celebrate , there were conspiracies and surprises, good friends and lovely gifts and I was overwhelmed.

Then I launched straight into the College production week and so it has been a week of late night rehearsals.

So I have not had time to write- so I am posting a blog I wrote for the College Alumni about 2 years ago – because being so spoiled last week made me think of it. Won’t make a practise of recycling forgive me I won’t turn 50 again !

Upgrade Me

Last week my first (and to date only) experience flying business class . I’m a late bloomer!

I used my frequent flyer points and flew business to Brisbane. I loved it!

I loved the extra leg room. I loved the little hot towels. I loved the real plates and glasses. I loved getting off the plane first. I really loved the food and wine.  I had a blast and enjoyed every minute of it.

However none of those things were what impressed me most. What impressed me most is the difference in how you get treated in business class. The staff knew my name and called me by it. They asked me if there was anything I needed at the end of the meal. They went out of their way to meet and anticipate my needs.

The bizarre thing is this, after about half an hour of this it started effecting how I felt. I felt respected and valued, and the way the lady sitting next to me spoke to me was entirely different to other conversations I have had on planes. But I am still me- and I am the same me who a few weeks earlier was jammed into a full economy flight for 30 hours on the way back from Europe with no little hot towels or wine in a real glass!

I started to think how easy it is to make people feel better about themselves- just by treating them with respect and giving them value. (And giving them a little hot towel if you have one handy!) We have the chance every day to give some-one’s life an upgrade.

Jesus constantly upgraded people. He discussed theological concepts with an outcast woman getting water at a well – when other men of the town would have shown contempt. He asked a despised tax collector to have dinner with him. He extended grace and mercy to a woman who was sleeping with some-one else’s husband. He valued people no matter what their circumstances.

I loved business class – but it ended for me in 90 short minutes. Wonder if we followed Jesus’ example by upgrading some-one’s life today if it could last a whole lot longer?

(Hey if you like this blog and want it in your in-box every week – in the Comment box you can select to have it sent to you whenever I publish – saves you watching out for it on social media ! )

Serving Jesus 2- The Tough Stuff

I am a little afraid that after reading this blog many of you may say “this teaching is too hard” and run for cyber safety – but what can I do – it’s all I got ! This is a longish blog- promise they won’t all be this long!

In the last blog I talked about the importance of knowing whom we are serving – it is Jesus and now here are a few areas I believe it is crucial we keep this in perspective

1. Finances

Ps Stephen Hickson from C3 Manhattan said to me one day about his long term service in the C3 movement  “Church cannot pay me for the extra hours I have willingly done, so I am trusting Jesus to reward me. “ It totally shifted my perspective. C3 Church is not the supplier of my needs – Jesus is. C3 Church is not my security and does not hold my future but Jesus does. If I chose to work overtime I am serving Jesus and building his church and my reward will be eternal. (More about boundaries in a few weeks!)

If C3 Church decided to terminate my position tomorrow I know would be incredibly disappointed, sad and possibly angry for a season but I have to keep positioning my heart so that a loss of role does not mean I walk away from serving Jesus.

2. Our Emotional Connection to Leaders

In holding the people above you in the correct place in your life it is key that we do not allow them to take the place that only Jesus should inhabit.

When men and women serve a person first, the tendency is to have expectations of that person that are unreasonable and we set them up to fail in our eyes. When I serve leaders through my service to Jesus, I understand that he alone is perfect and infallible, everyone else is flawed and fallible.

Over the years I have watched people deify a leader. They do everything the leader wants faster and more effectively than the rest of us mere mortals, they are agreeable on everything the first time, they are at every single meeting and it all seems wonderful. However in conversation over time it become clear they are holding a leader in a position he or she never asked for or wanted. They start justifying the leaders human preferences with scripture and creating doctrine out of culture. They allow the leader to hold a place in their affections that is inappropriate.

With women in difficult marriages this causes tension in the home, as husbands cannot possibly live up to this perfect pastor. For single women they become the man against whom all men are measured. It is frequently based on a one-dimensional understanding of who the leader is. These situations often end in disappointment and disillusionment; sometimes with the leader, sometimes then with the whole church and in the worst cases it causes people to walk away from God entirely.

There is only one man who was perfect, and his name of Jesus. There is only one man who we should be serving as our first priority – his name is Jesus. To put any other man or woman in the place where Jesus should be is incredibly unfair to that person and dangerous to our souls

As a member of a church planting team in Long island, New York this was tested for me when the Senior Pastors Mark and Bernie Kelsey were called home 8 years into the plant. They are incredible, godly, empowering leaders – but they had not called me to NY – Jesus had. So after much prayer and soul searching I didn’t come home to Australia when they did, I stayed for another five years until I felt the release from God to leave. I have to serve him first.

The Disclaimer

Now as a local church girl who has served in the same movement for twenty five years and in only two churches in that time, I am not advocating a individualistic unteachable Christianity that wont serve a leader or a church and uses as an excuse for a rebellious spirit that “I serve Jesus alone”. When you serve Jesus you serve the men and women he places above you, you serve you local church and you sacrificially give to build the church of the Living God. You just don’t expect any leader to be perfect, your church to be the supplier of your needs or your ministry role to fulfil every hope and dream in your heart. These are matters for Jesus.

The problem is it is so much easier to see the church and the leaders in front of us – so we have to keep going back to the secret place and placing Jesus on the throne of our lives.  In my life this will be a lifelong journey of constant re-alignment so that I can healthily serve for the long haul. How about you ?