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Our leader’s blog is usually written by Dr Ada Adeghe, a member of our Church Council. Ada is a regular speaker at Excel Church. She is originally from Nigeria and has lived in Wolverhampton for 20 Years. She has been married to Jude for 32 years and together they have three grown up children. Ada is a Professional Educator and Mentor. Ada’s desire is to see all God’s children appropriate His promises for themselves, thereby living lives of unlimited possibilities.
A new blog is usually posted at the start of each month.
Keep the thief out!
The bible describes the devil as a thief whose main agenda is to kill, to steal and to destroy (John 10:10).
How do you prevent a thief from breaking into your property? You lock all doors securely. You may even secure all accessible windows as a thief is always lurking about, searching for that opportunity or ‘open door.’ A thief rarely looks like one. That is often the secret to their success and that is why so often we fall victims.
This also applies to the ‘open doors’ in our lives. Quite often, they appear very harmless, but beware. What is that open door in your life that allows the devil to break in? Is it anger? Laziness? Pride? Procrastination? Gossip? Greed? These do not seem like grievous sins, but they do not have to be to destroy lives. It is the little foxes that ruin the vine (Song of Solomon 2:15). Seemingly insignificant or ‘harmless’ actions or habits can cause great damage. One little folly can permanently ruin a good reputation. One misguided action can wipe out an entire life’s savings! The devil loves the ‘little foxes’ that act as open doors for him to come into our lives to kill, steal and destroy us and all those things that are so precious to us. He is the biggest thief, so beware. Work hard to keep that thief out!
Ordering your priorities
Sometime ago, a female motorist in the USA was charged with child neglect and abuse. Failing to stop at a red light, the police had pulled her over, only to discover that not only was she drunk, she also had her 16 month old daughter in the back seat of her car, without a seat belt. The story got even more horrifying as the police noticed that the drunken woman had strapped 24 cans of lager securely to the front passenger seat with the seat belt. So, alcohol strapped securely with a seat belt, but 16 month old child left unstrapped in back seat. Beggars belief, but this is a true story. It would seem that this woman valued her alcohol supply more than she did her vulnerable toddler. Clearly, this is a woman with a problem. Still, what an ordering of priorities!
Most of us would be utterly incensed by this degree of irresponsibility, wouldn’t
we? However, when we put lascivious living before the things of God, we may well
be acting like that irresponsible woman. How often for instance do we spend hours
taking care of our physical bodies, but think nothing of neglecting our spiritual
lives? What is the ratio of time we spend feeding our minds tabloid or social media
junk, versus time invested in studying the word of God? Also, how often do we put
work before our families or having a ‘good’ time before studying for an important
assignment or examination? We may not get arrested by the police like the woman
in this story. After all, we are not criminals (I hope!). However, the bible tells
us to mind how we live. ‘Not as unwise, but wise’ (Ephesians 5: 15-
Be like your Father….
I was standing in the queue at a supermarket recently when the lady in front of me presented a voucher to the shop assistant, expecting some discount off her purchase. The assistant kindly pointed out that the voucher had long expired. It seemed pretty obvious that the lady shopper knew the voucher had expired but was trying it on. After paying for her goods however, she struck up a conversation with another woman who clearly was an acquaintance or friend. They were talking about church and there was a good deal of ‘Bless the Lord’, ‘Praise the Lord’ and ‘God is good.’ I did find it odd that someone who just tried to pull a fast one on the shop assistant was praising the Lord so profusely. What about some Godly honesty and truthfulness? I know you may be thinking: come on, that’s being judgemental. After all, the Bible says: ‘Judge not that ye be not judged’ (Matthew 7:1). I agree, my thoughts could be construed as judgemental, but you will also agree that right is right and wrong is wrong. As professed Christians, we ought to be good witnesses and that means being people of integrity.
I think back to my own childhood. I was a rather strong-
PS: Some 40 odd years on, I am better behaved now, I think……
Who sets your Standards?
I was intrigued by this headline in a daily tabloid last week:
‘Seven priests walk into a bar….and get kicked out by staff who think they’re on a stag do!’
Before I proceed to make my point, please note that this piece is not a condemnation of those who go to bars or those who like to have the odd pint of beer, glass of wine or whatever liquor takes their fancy. My point transcends the issue of whether or not it is right that Christians or religious leaders of any denomination should drink alcohol.
But let us examine this one story that has made headlines this week closely, because the reaction of the bar staff says something about the standards to which other people hold us once we openly profess to be Christians. What is clear is that they did not expect that ‘real’ or ‘genuine’ priests visit bars. If they did, they would not have immediately concluded that these bona fide priests were fakes, i.e. young men on a stag night.
It is very interesting the assumptions people who have little interest in religion
and who probably do not believe in the existence of God make about Christians. As
far as the bar staff were concerned, Christians, God-
There is a negative side to this. It means that other people often hold Christians up to an incredibly high standard, one that may be unrealistic to meet. As individual Christians, we know ourselves only too well, warts and all, so expecting us to be ‘perfect’ can be daunting, because we know we are not. On the other hand, there is a very positive message informing this view of us as Christians. People hold us up to high standards because they believe that our values, which are based on our relationship with Jesus, will cause us to rise up to the high standards of behaviour and living expected of us. I think that is worth celebrating because I would rather people expect much of me than little. Christ has given us so much, so ‘to whom much is given, much is expected’ (Luke chapter 12, verse 48).
Also, when people hold us up to high standards, the human nature is such that we try to live up to them. That is why affirming others in positive ways is very important. The bible is the Christian’s manual for living an exemplary life. It sets out the standards by which we should live. My question for you is, how well do you know your manual?
He orders your Steps and Mis-
I suffered a bitter disappointment recently. An opportunity was on the horizon and I believed God was going to open the door for me. I prayed, fasted for accelerated breakthrough and even ‘sowed a seed’! I was confident the door would swing wide open. Guess what? It slammed in my face. I was distraught and fired the questions at God. Why, God, Why? He owed me that opportunity, I felt. I had prayed fervently, starved myself, bound all my enemies, both real and imagined, bribed God with money, what else did he want? I promptly asked Him for a refund! But God remained silent.
You see, it is difficult for the Holy Spirit to get through to us when our minds are full of worry, turmoil and anxiety. Sometimes we need to be still and listen to his voice. As I sat in Church a week later, Psalm 37:23 came to my mind. ‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delighteth in his way’. The lost opportunity was not an accident. God was ordering my steps.
I understand now that God does not work to my schedule. He is also more interested
in my character than my comfort. I can’t twist his arm, bribe or threaten him in
a bid to receive what he never planned for me to have in the first place. Yes, I
am still disappointed the door of opportunity did not open and you too may be in
a place of disappointment today. But take comfort and remember that our God is wiser
than we are and His plans for us are always good. Jeremiah 29:11 says: ‘For I know
the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm
you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ So, be encouraged. God orders your steps
Take time out to rest.
Like many who just finished their half-
Taking time out from our daily grind to rest is an obligation we owe ourselves. It
is vital for our physical, mental and spiritual health and well-
Isaiah 30 verse 15 tells us that we can gain strength through quietness and rest. This means that ironically, rest can be a time of great renewal and productivity. The relaxed mind is a creative mind. A lot of the time we are so busy rushing around like headless chickens that we have little or no time to reflect on the logic or rationale behind our activities. We must remember too that activity does not equate to productivity. Reflection and ‘thinking time’ are vital if we are to live productive and most of all, meaningful lives. The author, Stephen Covey once said ‘Be sure that, as you scramble up the ladder of success, it is leaning against the right building.’
Taking time out to rest and reflect gives us all great opportunities to check that our lives and values are built on solid Christian foundations. Be sure to do this often because ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’, according to Socrates, one of the world’s greatest thinkers. Remain blessed.
Embrace the Stretching life brings
The 12th of April will always be a memorable day for me. I attended my graduation
ceremony flanked by my husband, children, daughter-
Starting anything worthwhile is easy. Finishing strong is a whole lot tougher! But success has its own recipe and stretching is a key ingredient. Ecclesiastes Chapter 7, verse 8 says: ‘The end of a matter is better than its beginning.’
I often think that as parents we work very hard to give our children what we never had. What we often fail to give them is what we do have, which are: the ability to persevere under pressure, resistance, dogged determination and the will to follow through in life.
Jesus is a prime example of pure grace under pressure. Hebrews chapter 12, verse 2 says:
‘Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’
Just think where we would all be if Jesus had given up half way through his trial, because he could no longer endure the pain and humiliation of the cross? None of us will ever come close to carrying a burden of such magnitude. Yet, see what joy salvation has brought to all who believe – the unmerited favour of eternal life.
So, what challenge are you facing today? Focus on the reward rather than the pain and never resist the stretching that life sometimes brings, because the joys often outweigh the pain.
The day after I was awarded my Doctorate, I received a note from my supervisor. It simply said: ‘Ada, you wake up every day from now on and you are still a Doctor…’
I couldn’t stop smiling. Every single ‘stretch’ over the 8 year period of study was worth the joy that short note brought to my heart.
Have an attitude of gratitude
An attitude of gratitude does not always come naturally to us. Sadly in this day and age, an attitude of entitlement means we have lost our sense of gratitude and take our many blessings for granted. But we are urged in I Thessalonians, chapter 5 verse 18, to give thanks in everything because it is the will of God. Note the verse does not say ‘some things’, but ‘everything’! Similarly, Ephesians, chapter 5 verse 20 says: ‘Always give thanks to God the father for everything in the name of the Lord Jesus’. This means that having a grateful heart is very important to God.
The gospel of Luke (Luke chapter 17, verses 11-
Jesus’ response to this one man implies that having a heart of gratitude is like having the right soil for your faith to grow and manifest. This means, gratitude will attract even more blessings, whereas ingratitude may well stem the flow of further blessings into our lives. Reflect on this for a moment: Would you continue giving good things to an ungrateful person, one who never stops to say, ‘thank you?’ Not likely!
So, do as you would like done to you. Always seek for things to be grateful for. Take time show gratitude to people who have made a difference to your life. Thank God always for his manifold blessings and goodness to you. If nothing comes to mind, just thank him for the gift of life. But never cease to keep an attitude of gratitude.
Let God direct you
Proverbs 3:5 encourages us to ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths.’
We all struggle with the challenge of sorting out our own ideas from those of God because as human beings, our understanding is limited. But we must be comforted by God’s word which promises us that: ‘Even to your old age and grey hairs, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you. I will sustain you and I will rescue you.’ (Isaiah 46:4). These are very encouraging words because the bible does not always give us clear directions about day to day decisions that impact on our lives; for example, when it is time to move house; or change jobs, or get married and have children. We are only instructed to commit all that we do to the lord, and he will bring our plans to pass (Proverbs 16:3).
When we trust our lives to a God who is omnipotent (all-
2017 – The year to start living intentionally
Last month I posed some questions we may want to reflect on if we must move from ‘excuses’ to ‘success’ in 2017. I also suggested that we need to live ‘intentional’ lives if we are to remain successful. What does living an intentional life mean? Intentional means ‘done on purpose’ or ‘deliberate.’ Others synonyms for intentional include: purposeful; predetermined or conscious.
All of these imply that anyone who lives an intentional life must not only have a vision, but must also have clear goals and a concrete plan to turn those goals into reality. It is no use saying you are seeking employment, for example, if you do not have a vision of what your ideal job would look like. More importantly, if you are not taking positive action to seek employment, then all you are doing is wishful thinking.
‘Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead’ (James, chapter 2, verse 17). Sometimes, taking appropriate action can be a strong measure of our faith. Do not grumble about your boss not giving you a salary raise if you are not going to pluck up courage and ask for one. If you think you need better skills, don’t just think it, take action and enrol on that course! Don’t say your husband never buys you gifts if you are not going to tell him gifts make you happy (Thought I’d throw that in, just in case my husband reads this).
Seriously, the present state of our lives has largely been determined by the decisions and choices we have made, or failed to make. Let us see what Ephesians chapter 2 verse 10 says about intentional and purposeful living: ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’ Even God had a clear intention for our lives before he created us. And so should we.
This means refusing to complain and whine about difficulties, failures and circumstances
of the past that cannot be changed. Instead, take a leaf from the book of the apostle
Paul who declared: ‘This one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining
towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God
has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians, chapter 4, verses 12-
So let 2017 be the year you start to live intentionally. Remain blessed.
Happy New Year!
Jesus told his disciples a very simple but insightful story in Matthew Chapter 45,
A man who was preparing to leave on a long journey entrusted his wealth to three of his servants according to what he perceived their abilities to be. To the first, he gave five talents, to the second two talents and to the third, he gave one talent. The first two immediately invested their master’s money and doubled the original sums given to them. The third servant however, dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money gaining nothing at all. When the master returned, the first two eagerly reported their increased investment of their master’s money and were both commended as ‘good and faithful servants’. The third servant, who was reluctant to use his skills wholeheartedly to increase his master’s wealth, was labelled a ‘wicked and lazy servant.’ His feeble, but calculated excuse was that he was afraid to take a risk with his master’s money as he considered him a ‘hard’ man!
My question to you is: How would you rate yourself when it comes to ‘investing’ your
Colossians Chapter 3, verse 23 says: ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord you are serving’. There are eternal consequences when we ‘bury’ our gifts like the last servant did. He tried to justify his actions with excuses. Someone called an excuse, a ‘well planned lie’. Excuses will never bring us success. Each and every one of us will be given 365 days in 2017. The question is, how are you going to spend those days?
Here are some questions to reflect on at the start of this New Year if we want to move from excuses to success:
1. What is my vision for 2017?
2. What is my plan to make this vision a reality? Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
3. What do I need to do this year to maximise every hour of every day?
4. What needs to change in my thinking if I must have success in 2017?
5. What actions do I need to take? Remember, nothing just happens!
6. How do I ensure that I live intentionally as opposed to ‘drifting’ in 2017?
Ponder on these questions, take some positive action and may God grant you a glorious and successful 2017. Happy New Year to you all!
Giving – A lifestyle
Last Tuesday 29th November, was ‘Giving Tuesday’, a National day when we were all encouraged to give generously to others, and do something good for charity. This is a great and noble idea, but wouldn’t it be even better if we were all encouraged to make giving and doing good deeds a lifestyle, one that is not restricted to just the one day a year?
The speaker and author, Tony Robbins said: ‘Life will support that which supports more of life.’ In other words, if you make giving and serving humanity a life purpose, life will in turn, bless you with many great and wonderful insights. Proverbs, Chapter 11, verse 25 puts it this way: ‘A generous person will prosper, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.’
You might say, ‘I have nothing to give.’ But you are wrong. We all have something to give, however small. There is something valuable in each and every one of us. When we feel most dry and empty, that is when we need to step up on our giving because the bible tells us: ‘Give and it shall be given to you’. Also, the measure we give is the measure we will receive (Luke chapter 6, verse 38). This means that if you make giving and doing good deeds a ‘one day in a year’ affair, you will receive a ‘one day in a year’ blessing or payback. If however, giving to others becomes your life style, life will deliver to you, blessings every single day. It is a universal law that never fails. So, make giving to others a lifestyle and watch your life change in ways you could never have imagined! (Malachi, Chapter 3, verse 10).
What were you put on this earth to do?
There is something about a compelling vision that is able to sustain us even in the most difficult of circumstances, because the road to great success is quite often paved with many stumbling blocks. But a compelling vision converts those stumbling blocks into stepping stones to success. This is why the bible encourages us to:
‘Write the vision and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run that reads it’ (Habakkuk chapter 2, verse 2).
God is a personal God. He is also an intentional God. Personal, because every human being he created is very important to him. He is no respecter of persons. He is an ‘equal opportunities’ God! He is also intentional because when he created you, he created you for a definite purpose. He had a job in mind for you when he created you.
The author Jack Canfield wrote:
‘I believe that each of us is born with a life purpose. Identifying, acknowledging, and honouring this purpose is perhaps the most important action successful people take. They take the time to understand what they’re here to do – and then they pursue that with passion and enthusiasm’.
So, you owe yourself a duty to get alone with God. Block out quality time with him as 2016 slowly draws to a close, and seek out his vision for your life. What were you put on this earth to do? Once you have a compelling vision of what you were meant to do on this earth, nothing can stop you! Better still, you will be amazed where God will take you.
Let your light shine
I was a proud mother last week when I received the news that my daughter received a high commendation for excellent ‘patient care.’ Please forgive me if I sound boastful, but if you are a parent, you will understand that few things bring greater joy to your heart than seeing your child excel in their chosen path in life.
But what really brings joy to my heart is not simply because my child was commended, but because she has successfully applied the Godly principles she learnt in church to the workplace, to merit some recognition. The world needs to see God at work in our chosen professions. In the main, being in church is easy. Church people are mostly…nice, especially on Sundays. But the real challenge of our Christian faith is when we get back to our places of work the rest of the week and have to deal with difficult situations and relationships. That is when we need to call on the grace of God to put into practice the sermon we heard (or preached) last Sunday.
Jesus called us to be the ‘salt of the earth’ and the ‘light of the world’, and asks
us to let our light shine before others, so that they may see our good deeds (Matthew,
chapter 5, verses 13-
Study – the path to growth.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th American president, once said that, ‘You have to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather is.’ This is wise advice because as Christians it can be so easy after we have accepted the Lordship of Jesus to rest on our laurels, believing that we have ‘arrived’. We reckon that we have got salvation so that is all that matters. But it is important that we continue to grow and develop.
Last week, we started another exciting season at Excel Church, one which coincided with the new school year. We began the ‘Next Level’ course, a series of sessions over the next 12 months where we will gain the opportunity to grow in a deeper knowledge of the Christian doctrine. There is always some more learning to do if we are to grow in our faith. Paul exhorted Timothy to study to make himself a Christian approved by God (2 Timothy, chapter 2, verse 15).
I often hear people say: ‘Oh, so and so has got 20, 30 or 40 years’ experience’ in one thing or the other. But when you dig deeper, you find out that they have got 20, 30 or even 40 years’ experience of doing the same thing over and over again. But you cannot be growing if you are not learning something new. You cannot be growing if there is no change in your knowledge, skills, attitude or behaviour. You cannot grow and still remain the same. This means that the desire to learn and change through your learning is absolutely necessary if you must move from Christian infancy to maturity (Hebrews chapter 5, verse 12). So, cherish the joy and the challenge of growing and maturing through studying the bible.
Begin with the end in mind
To begin with the end in mind, writes the author, Stephen Covey, means ‘to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination…’
I attended the funeral of a friend’s spouse recently and as various family members, friends and colleagues spoke with passion about how well the deceased had lived his life, I began to wonder about how I was living my own life. What would my family, friends and colleagues say about me? It was a sobering, if not frightening thought! More importantly, to what extent was I living with a clear vision of my desired destination? What legacy would I leave behind when my time comes to exit this world?
This was a wake-
I said last month that we are living in an increasingly uncertain and tumultuous world. This means that we have a responsibility not only to cherish the gift of each day, but to make every effort to live Godly lives in the midst of so much sin and immorality, seizing the many opportunities that each day brings (Colossians 4:5).
I leave you with some final thoughts: What legacy will you leave behind? What will your family, friends, neighbours, colleagues and/or fellow believers say about you? How will you like to be remembered? Someone said that the good that we do does not go away. It stays. Reflect on this and adjust the way you live accordingly.
Jesus – Lord Over Every Situation
It has been a tumultuous couple of weeks for Britain following the outcome of the European Union (EU) referendum, Brexit. Britain voted to leave the EU and whether or not personally you voted to leave or to remain, the fact remains that the entire country seems to be in upheaval of sorts at the moment. While opinions vary greatly as to whether leaving the EU is a good or bad thing, it is clear that the full consequences of the decision to leave the EU continue to unfold in unexpected ways.
Following Brexit, the pound dropped to an all-
But this is no time to panic. Instead, it is time to hold steadfast to what we who
have put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ know. That is, He is unchangeable. He
remains the same yesterday, today and forever (Revelation 1:8). Yes, there is a
great deal of uncertainty at the moment, but we can trust the unknown future to our
known God. He is still on the throne. No man can challenge his leadership (Job 23:13).
No political party can vote him out. He is the creator of the universe. The Lord
of lords. The King of all kings. The creator of the universe. The one to whom EVERY
knee must bow. What a great time to be part of the family of God! He alone can
provide true security during these uncertain times. We must heed the advice given
in Hebrews 10:23 -
Last month, we looked at how our fear of failure holds us back from achieving our dreams. In that blog, I pointed out that once we trust God, pluck up the courage to step out, He always steps in to enable us. God’s thoughts towards us are good all the time. He wants to give us hope and a great future (Jeremiah Chapter 29 verse 11).
It’s the month of June which means we are now half-
So, if you have encountered failure and disappointment of any kind in pursuit of your dreams, here are two quick thoughts to get you back on track.
1. Change your attitude to failure and disappointment. I once read that disappointments are inevitable, but misery is optional. Get right up and begin again, because how you choose to respond to any event determines the outcome. You are in charge. You are not a victim of circumstances. Choose your response.
2. Your disappointment or failure may be a ‘gift’ if you search for the lesson within it. Someone said ‘Adversity is a gift wrapped in ugly clothing.’ Take off the ‘ugly clothing’ and cherish the ‘gift.’ Ask yourself: what is life trying to teach me through this failure and disappointment? Remember, ALL things work out for good if we trust God (Romans, chapter 8 verse 28).
So, get back up and dream again. God is on your side!
If not now, when?
I woke up one morning this week with the phrase, ‘If not now, when?’ ringing in my ears. ‘If not now, when?’
I soon realised that God was challenging me about the habit of putting things off.
It is called, procrastination. Why do we do it? The first reason that comes to
mind is that we fear failure. We do not act on our God-
Once you have a positive view of failure, you are not afraid to make mistakes. You
are able to step out and take action on your God-
Deal with the root of the problem
Last month I talked about the need for us to connect our habits to our purpose. We need to cultivate habits that move us in a positive direction towards our desired goals. When we struggle with bad habits it is more than likely because we have not dealt with ‘the root of the problem.’
I will give a personal example. When I am up against a tight deadline or a tough
challenge, my default state is to seek comfort in food as a ‘cushion’ for my tense
feelings. Once I recognised the problem I had to re-
What habits do you struggle with today? Deal with the root of the problem. I will give another personal example. I had a very painful and recurrent eye infection not too long ago. I dealt with it by taking painkillers which worked for a bit, but each time, the infection soon returned. I had not dealt with the root of the infection. But when I did by seeing a doctor and taking some antibiotics, the infection ceased to return.
Bad habits are like that. They will persist until we deal with the root. Seek help by talking to someone you can trust. Seek Godly counsel. Above all, pray for God’s help to overcome bad habits. Talk to him like a friend, in your own simple language. God is an ever present help in trouble (Psalm 46, verse 1). He can save, he can heal. He can deliver. Once again, cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
The Power of Habit
Someone once said that we need to connect our habits to our purpose. If we are not experiencing success in any particular area of our lives, it is likely to be because our habits are not consistent with what brings success in that area. For example, if your purpose is to get out of debt, you cannot continue the habit of buying things on impulse. If your desire is to lose weight, always browsing through the chocolate aisle at your local supermarket is not a brilliant idea. If you must pass that aisle to get the healthy food that you need, best to look straight ahead.
We must be discerning about those habits that are not beneficial in helping us reach
To overcome bad habits, you must change your life style by replacing bad habits with good ones. If you want to stop the habit of gossip and idle chatter for instance, avoid that friend who always has a ‘juicy’ story. Get around people who live meaningful lives. If you are prone to anger and temper tantrums, why not practise responding calmly to every situation?
Above all, in trying to replace bad habits with good ones, we must draw on the power of God.
He is willing to help us break habits that keep us bound. He is an expert at setting the captives free from anything that binds them (Isaiah chapter 61 verse 1). If you need to be set free from a bad habit today, call on God’s help and watch him transform your habits to connect with the purpose he has planned for you.
Commitment – The Key to Excellence
Welcome to Excel Church!
I pointed out last month that a new chapter in the life of our church will begin today, 1st February 2016. We will from henceforth be known as Excel Church. These are exciting times for us and we are being encouraged at the moment by a series of sermons around the grace of excelling in different areas of our lives. So far our pastor has talked about the importance of us excelling in our giving and excelling in our speech. We are expecting more in this series to follow over the next couple of months.
We are all highly motivated by what we are listening to at the moment, buoyed on by a brand new building and a new name. In order to maintain a spirit of excellence however, motivation, while being very useful at the early stages of growth, is never powerful enough to sustain that growth. Another attribute is needed – Commitment. Motivation may get you started but it is your commitment that will keep you going. Abraham Lincoln said that: ‘Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality.’
We can understand then why Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 16 verses 24-
Jesus knew how fickle we are as human beings. We can get excited and motivated at the start of anything, but half way through when we encounter challenges or stumbling blocks, what do we do? We give up. We think it is no longer worth the effort. But it takes sacrifice to be committed to anything. True commitment means that you do what you have to do even when you face challenges. It also means that you do what you have committed to do even when you don’t feel like it. Why? Because after the initial excitement that follows any decision, reality will set in, and reality is not always exciting. But consistency is power. You make your stumbling blocks your stepping stones. Jesus said in Luke 9 verse 62: ‘No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom.’ That’s commitment and it’s an attribute worth excelling in. Keep excelling!
Now that the festive season is over, I am sure our hearts and minds are now tuned into the New Year. This is the time many of us reflect on our vision, our goals and possibly resolutions for 2016. There is definitely wisdom in having a vision and setting goals to make that vision a reality.
Here at our church, we are all excited because late last year our vision of a new build became a reality. More exciting is the fact that from 1st February 2016 we will no longer be known by our old name, Bilston Pentecostal Church. We will now be called Excel Church. What a wonderful name!
However, it places upon us a huge responsibility to live up what we will now call ourselves from February. The dictionary describes Excel as to ‘be exceptionally good at or proficient in an activity or subject.’
Other definitions of Excel include to:
Be excellent; be brilliant; be outstanding; be skilful; be talented; be proficient;
Living up to these standards is a daunting task. However, we do not have choice because we must be what we say we are on our ‘tin’.
I remember when I was having my first baby. I was booked in for a routine appointment to see a dietician. Please forgive me for being judgemental, but her appearance did nothing to instil any confidence in me. She looked nothing like someone who should be giving me dietary advice. It wouldn’t have mattered if she was a teacher, a lawyer or even a doctor or a nurse, but she was a dietician. She needed to look the part if patients were to take her seriously. This was over 30 years ago and I still remember like it was yesterday.
So, we all have a responsibility in 2016. Excel!
Happy New Year!!
The Master Key is all you need
A Master key is that one key that opens all other locks, each of which has its own key. This means a Master key is one like no other. It is a powerful key because it does what the others cannot do, giving access to locks other keys cannot open.
There is also another way of seeing the Master key. We have a key to the main entrance of our house which I can rightly refer to as the Master key in that only that key gives us access into our home. If I have all the other keys but forget to put that Master entrance key into my handbag when I leave the house, that does me no good as without the key to the front door I am unable to enter my house anyhow, let alone open any other door. Get the idea? Master keys are powerful!
We now have roughly three weeks before 2015 comes to an end. What did you fail to accomplish in 2015 that this time last year, you were so certain you would get done? I believe that when we fail to keep our resolutions, it may in part be because we never needed 100 resolutions in the first place, but that one resolution which when kept, will impact positively on every other aspect of our lives.
It would appear that for Christians, this Master key has clearly been identified and laid down for us, so we do not need to go searching. Matthew chapter 6 verse 33 captures this Master key which is to ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well.’
As human beings we go chasing after a multitude of things – money, status, pleasure, fame – all of which are important. However, in the light of eternity, these things we go chasing after are of little significance. But when we order our priorities by putting God first, in other words, making God’s priorities our priorities, then these things that we desire so much just seem to fall effortlessly on our laps. They come chasing after us rather than we pursuing them. The bible tells us that our heavenly father knows that we need these things (Matthew 6:32) and it is his good pleasure to give them to us (Luke 12:32).
So, your resolution for 2016 is right there for you: Seek the Master key, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and watch transformation take place in your life. Stay blessed.
Forget the past….
I find it hard to believe that the end of the year will soon be upon us. How quickly
this year has flown! I remember this time last year thinking of all the things I
would like to achieve in 2015. We have some 8 weeks left this year and it will take
a miracle to tick all my boxes. It is easy to get depressed by ageing and more importantly,
‘But one thing I do. Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead’ (Philippians 3, verse 13).
We all should adopt this attitude as 2015 draws to an end. Forget those things that have not gone so well. Focus on the future. Prepare yourself to begin again in 2016 because all the resources that you need to turn your dreams into reality are within you. Like Paul, you must be relentless in pursuing these dreams. Someone said that controlled focus is like a laser beam that can cut through anything that seems to be stopping us. Let that be your attitude as you look forward to 2016. Begin today to design the next year of your life!
Keep the weeds out…..
Have you noticed that weeds don’t need any incentive to grow? If you have a nice garden, all you have to do is nothing and as surely as night follows the day, weeds will start to grow. However, beautiful flowers just don’t grow. You have to plant them on purpose and tend the garden or your lovely flowers will simply die.
It is like that with habits. Bad habits are like weeds. We often don’t have to work hard at them. When my kids were toddlers, I never taught them to lie. If one of them did something wrong and thought they would get into trouble, the lies just came ‘naturally’. They looked around for who wasn’t in the room at the time and blamed that person! And this child is only three years old!!
Lying, slothfulness, procrastination, gossip, gluttony, drunkenness, spending valuable time on social media, all those things do not take a lot of effort. We just ‘slide’ into them and if we are not careful, they become habits and our habits become who we are.
But good habits demand discipline. Good habits are not always ‘pleasurable’ in the short term. But someone said you can either suffer the pain of discipline or you end up with the pain of regret. Discipline weighs an ounce but regret weighs a ton.
It takes discipline to:
Keep your mouth shut when you want to slander another person.
Get out from under your duvet on a cold morning and exercise when all you want to do is snuggle under for another 40 minutes
Do your homework instead of watching another rubbish programme on TV
Have a good attitude and be patient with your kids when all you want to do is scream
Walk past that lovely handbag because you have committed to save money (Hurts me to write this one!)
Spend some time reading the word of God and growing in wisdom
The list is endless, but the apostle Paul said in I Corinthians chapter 10, verse 23: ‘Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial; Everything is permissible but not everything is constructive’.
When we work hard to do only those things that are beneficial and constructive, we never have to suffer the pain of regret. Remember, it weighs a ton!
Paul in said ‘Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial’ he goes on to say ‘I will not be mastered by anything’.
Be wise: Make good use of your time.
Can you believe we are already into the eight month of the year 2015? It seems like only yesterday I wrote my January blog, suggesting that we all needed to take an inventory of our lives and reflect on how we lived in 2014! I had asked the following questions: What went well in 2014? What did not go too well? I also asked if we thought we were living God’s vision for our lives? What did we contribute to our families? Our community? Our church? Our work place?
This eight month of the year is a good time to re-
We need to develop a sense of urgency and live with purpose if we are to be successful. Psalm 90 verse 12 says: ‘Teach us to number our days right that we may gain a heart of wisdom.’ Successful people are no more intelligent or skilled than unsuccessful people. The major difference between them is that successful people value and use their time wisely.
Ephesians 5 verse 16 says: ‘Be very careful then, how you live. Not as unwise but as wise, making the most every opportunity, because the days are evil.’
Please be wise and pay attention to this message so come December 2015, you can be proud of how you have lived this year.
What are you listening to?
The endless stream of information presented by social media today makes it difficult to remain ignorant. This can be a good thing. Some people have said that knowledge is power. So, there are benefits in ‘knowing’. However, we must constantly question the value of what we read and what we listen to as this can impact on us negatively or positively.
The reason is, as we hear, so we speak and so we do. Two of my favourite bible characters are Joshua and Caleb (Numbers chapters 13 & 14). They were two of ten spies sent out to explore the land God had given to the Israelite community, with a view to them capturing it. But eight of the spies brought back a discouraging report to the Israelites. However, Joshua and Caleb refused to be consumed by fear and negativity. They ‘saw’ and ‘heard’ differently from the rest of the clan. To put it bluntly, they ‘blocked’ their ears and refused to listen to or talk about bad news. They believed the Israelites were chosen of God and so were strong enough to defeat their enemies. The bible tells us that when we trust God, our hearts will remain steadfast and we will not be afraid of bad news (Psalm 112, verse 7). Your problem may be too big for you, but it is never too big for God.
So, we must guard our hearts (Proverbs 4, verse 23) and not let anything and everything
in because ‘garbage in, garbage out’. It is a spiritual law. Out of the abundance
of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6, verse 45). When we saturate our minds with
positive and faith-
Most people fail because they are surrounded by negative, ‘toxic’ people. Examine
your relationships and reflect on how different people impact on your moods, your
attitudes and your self confidence. You need around you people who nourish you,
build your faith and feed your-
Never leave God out.
When you face challenges without God, you may come through but the ‘fight’ may take too much out of you. The result is that the victory is never as sweet as it could have been, had you factored God in.
When you wholeheartedly call on the help of God in the midst of dire circumstances, he not only fights for you, he is also in the restoration business. He can weave something beautiful out of the ugliest of situations. Isaiah 61, verse 3 tells us that God brings forth beauty from ashes. When he delivered the Israelites from bondage and oppression, he fully restored their fortunes so much so that they were like people who dreamed (Psalm 126 verse 1).
They never imagined that victory, let alone an abundance of prosperity would be possible under such dire circumstances!
Someone said that when man restores something, he restores it to its original state. But when God restores, it is in a better shape than it was before damage was done. Just look at the story of Job: ‘After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before’ (Job 42, verse 10).
This is the kind of victory we should desire over the challenges of life. How do we get it? Never leave God out!
What are you expecting?
We have just finished celebrating Easter. The Easter message to me is the greatest love story of all. John 15 verse 13 says: ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’
What this act of love demonstrates is that there is nothing that we need that our heavenly father will not graciously provide us. After all, you can not do better that laying down your life willingly for another (Romans 8, verse 32). This means that we must never be afraid to ask of God and more importantly, we must believe we will receive when we ask. We must ask big because our God is a big God who wants to do exceedingly above all we can imagine or think (Ephesians 3, verse 20).
But quite often God’s desire to give freely to us is thwarted by our limited faith in believing. What you believe will determine what you expect and ultimately, what you get. If we believe for nothing, we expect nothing and we get nothing. If we believe for small, we expect small, we get small. If we are able to believe God for great things, we will expect and achieve great things. His resurrection power is working within us to propel us to greatness when we wholeheartedly put our trust in him.
Disregard the circumstances or your own ability and dare to believe he is faithful and that he will do for you what he has promised he will do. My sister Clementina always captures this nicely in our ‘Nigerian’ English. She tells me: ‘Ada, to do big and to do small, na notin for God’, meaning: God can do big, he can do small, so why ask him for small, knowing you will only receive what you ask for?
Corrie Ten Boom puts it this way: ‘Faith sees the invincible, believes the unbelievable and receives the impossible.’
So, don’t be afraid to expect big. He is big God!
You are well connected!
You know, there are times when the chorus of a particular song just keeps ringing in your ears. You can’t get away from it. I have had one of those days and it is the chorus of a song by Chris Tomlin titled: ‘Whom Shall I Fear? (God of Angel Armies).’
It goes this way:
‘I know who goes before me, I know who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side. The one who reigns forever. He is a friend of mine. The God of angel armies is always by my side.
You know what? This tells me that I am well connected. I am the apple of God’s eye! (Zechariah 2 verse 4; Psalm 17 verse 8). Because I know who watches over me, I have nothing to fear. I am confident. So, I have made some decisions as to how I will respond to my problems in 2015. Here goes:
Response to problems:
The bible says that God is watching over our lives. He never sleeps nor slumbers (Psalm 121, verse 4. If our friend is awake, no point in us staying awake with worry then is there?
New Year, New Dawn
I was cheered up by a verse at the start of this New Year :
‘The steadfast love of the Lord never changes, His mercies never come to an end,
they are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3, 22-
Isn’t it great that we get the chance to begin all over again? Every new year brings with it a new dawn! God’s mercies and faithfulness give us that privilege and we must seize them every new year, especially in 2015.
At our first Church service this year, the message was about taking inventory of how we lived our lives in 2014. How did it go? What was great? What was not so great? The message of the verse above means none of it matters. It is a new day, it is a new dawn. It is time to start all over again and make 2015 the greatest year of your life!
Some of us work harder at our jobs than we work on ourselves. Many of us do not take inventory, or take a hard look at ourselves because it may be too painful to do so. But we must look back to move forward wisely. Not in condemnation at the things we have fallen short of. But to answer questions like: what is Gods vision for my life? What was I born to do? Did I do it in 2014? If not, why not? What contribution did I make to my family? My church? My community? My workplace? Was I a problem or was I a solution in 2014? How did I grow as a person? What beliefs, what fears am I holding on to that are holding me back and not enabling me to move forward?
Never be afraid to take an inventory of your life. You cannot move forward unless you know how you got here in the first place. Once you get your answers, commit to make the changes as necessary and move on knowing that with God’s help, you can achieve the greatness that is in you.
It is a new day, it is a new dawn. It is a new year. You can start all over again and make 2015 the greatest year of your life.
Happy new year all!