They say ‘leaders are readers’ and so I headed off on my holidays with a book which had been recommended by a close friend.
The book was Brian Houston’s ‘Live Love Lead’
It’s an absorbing read in which Brian is transparent in sharing the story of his life in ministry with great honesty and insight. For all the amazing things that God has done in his & Bobbie’s life, and for the incredible growth of the Hillsong church worldwide, there has inevitably, been a high price to pay for both him and his family. Success rarely comes without sacrifice and cost. I encourage you to get hold of it – you will be blessed, inspired and encouraged!
There was a phrase that Brian Houston used used towards the end of ‘Live, Love, Lead ‘ that has stuck in my mind ever since and I want to share it with you! I guess it underpins the whole book.
Brian said, ‘I had an overwhelming sense that I was to live ‘called’ not just ‘saved.’ He continued by quoting the following words from Paul:
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” (2 Tim 1:9)
I’m so grateful everyday that God sent Jesus Christ to rescue me from potentially a lesser life. Without His intervention I would still be struggling with my past, my sin, my shame, my mess and would have been facing a lost eternity. What a tragedy! Can I encourage you to connect with God today?
LIVING CALLED NOT JUST SAVED
I know from the clues in my bible and my own experience that there’s more to being a Christian than just being saved! God has a call and purpose for every single person.
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.” (Eph. 1:11-12 MSG)
We are NOT simply SAVED we are also CALLED!
Jesus saved us and called us to a holy life. I believe Paul is suggesting that once we become a Christian, our lives are set apart for Him and that his desire and plan is for us to live out a consecrated life, a vocation and an exciting, individually shaped, calling that fits us perfectly. That’s incredibly exciting and let me encourage you – it’s never too late to get on board!
WE’RE ALL CALLED!
We’re all called to:
- Live, love and lead the same way and yet differently!
- The general Christian way of living & yet we’re all called to a specific way of Christian living….
Paul encourages us to grasp this and get on with it:
“So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger-painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. The basic foundational truths are in place: turning your back on “salvation by self-help” and turning in trust toward God; baptismal instructions; laying on of hands; resurrection of the dead; eternal judgment. God helping us, we’ll stay true to all that. But there’s so much more. Let’s get on with it!” (Hebrews 6:1-3 MSG)
The fact is this – we’re all called to the basic, general Christian walk with its foundational habits and disciplines. Here are three basics:
Have you learned to pray yet? It’s foundational….its basic. I’ve learned that there is nothing that will benefit you more than spending time in prayer each day.
Have you learned to enjoy being with Father God each day to pray….?
Have you discovered the power of praying through, praying hard, seeking God, listening….hearing His voice – it’s an incredible gift from God to us.
Check out my article ‘How to Kickstart your Prayerlife.’
In our church there are lots of opportunities to serve. Never mind the Food bank, Clothes Store and other community ministries – there are all kinds of groups meeting and opportunities galore to serve God and serve others. We have a high ratio of people serving and I thank God for everyone one of them! Jesus said this:
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
Have you learned to serve yet? When we serve – we learn, mature, grow, develop gifts, discover more about ourselves, make new friends….. NB – You will not grow much as a Christian if you will not serve.
I went to the cinema to watch Mission Impossible recently! When I purchased my ticket, I said to the young cashier – ‘I’ve only got a bit of loose change left will you accept that?’ I had £1.36….
She said ‘Sir – we have the film rights to pay, the heating, lighting, water, business rates, staffing, cleaners, publicity, website, Facebook, media and other costs….If everyone paid £1.36 per week we couldn’t provide those services…..’
Friends – that’s how some of us treat our giving in church!
(check out Malachi 3:10)
Have you learned to give?! It’s a part of our general calling as Christians to provide for God’s house and the ministries into the local community and wider world.
We’re all called to live out these basic lifestyle habits of God’s people….I’ve mentioned just three but there are others such as fellowship, sharing our faith, worship etc. When these things become habits then we’re choosing to ‘live called not just saved.’
But we all have a specific call to discover…
GRASP YOUR SPECIFIC CALL!
A young Christian, Alan Redpath, regularly attended church but was not particularly active or committed to the Lord. One day a friend said to him “Alan it is possible to have a saved soul but a wasted life”.
This comment struck Alan Redpath so hard he couldn’t get it out of his mind. When he travelled on a train, the sound of the train’s wheels turning kept ringing in his ears was: “saved soul but wasted life, saved soul but wasted life, saved soul but wasted life”. When he was playing rugby, it seemed as if the pounding of the feet of players around him was also saying “saved soul but wasted life, saved soul but wasted life”. At the post match party the band seemed to drum out the same message – “saved soul but wasted life, saved soul but wasted life”.
When Alan Redpath got back to his hotel room he knelt by his bed and surrendered his life to God. He wanted to give himself fully to His Lord. He later became a famous pastor and preacher serving in London, Chicago (Moody Church), and in Edinburgh (Charlotte Chapel).
Very few are called to full time ministry but we must all determine that we don’t have a ‘saved soul wasted life.’
Clock Is Ticking…
Have you worked out what God placed you here for?
What is that one thing that God created you specifically to do?
God is amazing – if you will let Him pilot your plane or steer your boat you will have the most fulfilling and satisfying life.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26)
I decided years ago that I would surrender my life to God and attempt to live for Him from that moment on (imperfectly I may add!).
Surrendering to God
- Does not lead to a boring, poorer, substandard, lesser kind of existence that you will hate! This is a lie of the enemy!
- Means that God will match your gifts, abilities, passions, experiences, personality with His unique call!
- Means we get to fulfil our God-given potential and enjoy life in all its fullness (John 10:10)
It is a common misconception among Christians that only a select few can have a ‘call‘ and only those in ‘full-time christian work’ (i.e. Church worker / missionary etc..) have a ‘call’.
The truth is that ALL Christians are ‘saved and called‘ ( 2 Timothy 1:9) and that every legitimate occupation of life is in a significant sense a calling from God. We do not have to be in so-called “full-time ministry” as a pastor or a missionary to be useful to God. We can be fruitful for God in whatever profession calls us to serve. It may be in the marketplace, in the office, in the school, on the university campus, in the hospital, in the factory, on the farm or in Parliament.
HOW TO DISCOVER YOUR SPECIFIC CALLING
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Can I encourage you today to live out your basic calling and also to discover your specific call – the reason that you are alive. Here are eight tips:
- Surrender your life to Him
- Pray, seek, ask God to show you
- Listen to your heart for clues (often a guide but you may gifts in one area…..have no aptitude for …..
- Seek wise counsel – talk to people who know you
- Try some new things to discover your specific call
- Say YES to God when He challenges you to step out of your comfort zone: ‘Every time you say NO to God you’re saying YES to the enemy of your soul and YES to a lesser life.’
- Do whatever you can do now! The best way to discover what God is calling us to do is to do whatever we can do now (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
- Give Yourself Away! Find ways of living selflessly – help the poor,money, weak, struggling and those who need encouraging and building up. Serve others…..
‘The value of a life is always measured by how much of it is given away.’ (Andy Stanley)
I’ve written a more expansive article on re-discovering God’s vision for you life – ‘Lost Vision.’ Check it out!
So – can I ask you again – Are you living called or simply saved?
“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” (2 Timothy 1:9)
Can I encourage you to read Brian Houston’s ‘Live Love Lead’ – it’s an inspirational and uplifting book.