Go Deeper with Andy B as he explains what staying on target means.
He talks about how we should be witnessing to those in our orbit. We don’t have to travel to a foreign country to preach the Gospel. We ought to show God’s love to whomever He places within our reach, like our colleagues at work.
He also touches on the topic of pleasing others. We can’t possibly please everyone. Instead we should please God by doing what He has asked us to do.
If you struggle to stay on target, you’ll want to listen to this!
So stay on target!
What are we talking about? Well, it's not quite the clip from Star Wars, where they're about to blast into the big spaceship thing in the sky. It's a bit more involved in that.
Let's just start with looking at James Chapter 4, verses 13 through 17.
"Come now you who say today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and make a profit. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you, a mist that appears for a little time and then vanish is instead, you ought to say if the Lord Wills, we will live and do this or that. As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it for him it is sin.
The year is 2020. It's not that long ago!
There were plenty of people making lots of plans for that summer. In my head, I'm thinking about especially the big music gigs. Whether it's big festivals and they're booking up for catering, and for toilets, and for bands, and for security. They're shelling out all this money - it's not happening.
But it happens every year without fail. At least we know this is going to happen this year, and…
If we learn nothing from COVID, that's going to help us in our Christian walks, we should learn this - we cannot predict what is going to happen tomorrow!
I never thought in my lifetime as a father of three amazing boys, married to Jo, living where we live here in the UK, that the Prime Minister would come on television on Facebook, on YouTube, on all sources: don't leave your house!
Who could have predicted that? Who could have seen that the day before? Nobody!
Who could have seen it a year before?
You think about weather forecasts - the most expensive computers in the world? Quite a lot of them are actually useful weather forecasting. Why? 'Cos we want to know what the weather's gonna to be like?
Well, what's that got to do with anything? Well weather forecasting is very useful if you're planning for a festival - what's the weather gonna be like? What's our best guess, our best prediction.
We love to know what's coming up ahead. We like to make sure we got lots of money in our houses - if you can afford a house. Or putting your money into a pension, or a retirement plan.
But we don't know if we're even going to make retirement.
We could tragically die before then, and all we'll have done is wasted our effort and time running around doing something that was completely pointless.
That's not to say that planning for the future is a bad thing. It's not. Biblically it's very wise!
But when we put too much effort into that, we're missing the point.
Erm, having a chat with a really good friend of mine from the States, and er, I'm gonna to read out my quote to him.
He made a really good point from Spurgeon: Karl - a wonderful man of God and this is what I said:
"All in all. Since we can never please everyone, there is no point expanding all our efforts trying to please anyone. Just doing as faithfully as prayerfully as we can, what God is asking us to do"
And I think that that point I made is really relevant here, because we cannot please everybody all of the time.
As someone who's led worship for more than 30 years - from hymns, through to the most contemporary of worship songs, in all sorts of churches: Baptist and Methodist, and Anglican, Pentecostal, Inter-denominational, New frontiers - all these different churches where I've led worship, the one thing I can say is consistently true - there's always somebody, every service - without fail:
"Well I didn't like that song!" and/or "why did you do this" and "we didn't know that song". There's always someone that's gonna complain - it matters not how much effort you've put into it!
I remember in a church, it was in a bit of a mess.
I was asked very last minute, 'can you come and do some worship for Easter?'
So I did!
Loads of complaints.
'Well you didn't do this song.' 'You didn't do that song.' 'We didn't have this and we didn't…'
Okay, we'll just forget the fact that nobody else could do this. Nobody else wanted to and I was willing to come along and help and gave my heart and my soul into this.
Now I'm not bitter about that because I've been leading worship for a long time. You just take that and you ignore it. It's not relevant or helpful - because you can't please everybody.
So the best we can ever do is do what God's asking us to do, which is brilliant and liberating because…
...as we read in James 4
"what is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes"
The thing is, mist comes and mist goes, and we are like the mist.
Now you can get depressed about that, and if we don't know Jesus Christ, that's very depressing.
But if you do know Jesus Christ - as your Lord and your Saviour; if you've had your sins forgiven, and you know you've got an assured place in heaven - knowing that our life is such a small part of the whole life of lives, actually, it's really liberating as well, because what is God actually asking me to do?
Erm, if we say no to somebody, it means we can say yes to somebody else - I've said this to lots of people over the years.
When we just want to get busy, and help, and be everything to everybody, we exhaust ourselves by doing good, not necessarily what's godly.
So, saying no, means we can do what God is asking us to do, and all of that helps us to stay on target.
And what's the target?
The target is our journey to heaven.
The target is our relationship with Jesus Christ.
The target is becoming more and more like Jesus Christ, letting the power of the Holy Spirit become ever more prevalent in our lives, strengthening us to do those things that God wants us to do.
Here's what happened for me.
I'm going through school, do GCSEs - here in the UK, college age - 6th forms - get to the end of my sixth form, I've done my A levels:
"Ooh what university you going for?"
I had university places: I had one in in Wales, one in Chester I could have gone to.
And I didn't go, and the reason I didn't go is I didn't see the point.
Not because I don't see the point in university - but I didn't see the point for me personally. And going to university for three years, to do a qualification I didn't know what to do with.
So I didn't go.
For me I got married at 19. Best decision I ever made - and we started our life together, Jo and I and it was the best decision I made!
I haven't got a degree. I don't regret that. I could have done- but I wanted to do what God wanted me to do, and just doing something for the sake of it isn't me. That's what I didn't want to do.
For a lot of people, it's what they do it and they discover what they want to do, and that's absolutely fine, but we need to do what God is asking us to do as people.
Now a long time ago Jo and I were really privileged - we went to something called Northern Lights up above York, somewhere in a field of a church.
And I heard this story, which I've repeated many times, coz it sinks into the heart of everything we're doing here, and it sinks into my heart, and it sinks in to how do we do evangelism, and what's God calling me to do - what's my calling for my future?
So there's a church - I don't remember where.
But this church had grown on this really, erm, it's a housing estate with no jobs, no income, no employment. It was a really depressed area, because employment just been taken away and lots of unemployed people, lots of hopelessness.
This church grew; families attended the church; people came to the church; the families grew and the church grew; the families got better jobs than they left.
They abandoned the area and they tried to come to the church. And over time it was apparent that this church was on it's knees.
And what they did was they changed and said, 'do you know what - all we're doing is getting better jobs, and better houses, and moving to nicer places. What we're not doing is asking what does God want us to do as a church?'
And many of those families sold their much nicer homes, moved back into the area where they used to live - near the church, had lots more free money, put that money into the church for evangelism and saw that area transformed.
Why? Well, it's not exactly a big thing. It's what you're supposed to do, isn't it?
The Message Trust from Manchester. What do they do? Their Eden Project: families living in communities, being Christian families, sharing the gospel with the people they meet on their doorstep.
That's the mission.
Erm, I did a year of mission in Manchester. I loved every second of it. If you get the opportunity after school, college, whatever to go off and do something like that - before you settle down into marriage, or whatever else God's got for you, it's a brilliant thing to do if you can.
But here's the thing - you don't have to go abroad to evangelise!
It can be a really great opportunity for you to go away somewhere you don't know, where you're not going to feel quite so bothered about what people see of you - so it can be a really good thing.
But you don't have to go abroad to evangelise - the people that you meet in the street, at the bus stop, need Jesus just as much as anybody else anywhere on the planet, including you and me.
Erm, I've written down here a little thing: "millionaires speak to millionaires and we are who we are, and we are where we are."
Now I watched a great thing about a guy who was in millionaire. A wonderful godly Christian man; lots of fruit in his life - no question about his discipleship to Jesus.
But he said, 'who else is going to speak to millionaires' - when asked about how much money he's got - 'who's gonna to speak to them other than millionaires? And who's who are they going to listen to other than millionaires?'
So we need to all, all the time, speak to people that we're meeting.
I heard a guy who was so lost the plot as a preacher. 'I need lots of millions of pounds, erm dollars, so I can buy a jet - so I can get to do mission faster.'
Missing the plot completely! - he doesn't need 10s of millions of dollars to buy a jet. What he needs to do is to witness the people he knows.
That's not to say he should never, ever do that, and that can't be God's will, it's saying 'what is God actually asking us to do?' 'How do we stay on target in our lives, spiritually and physically?'
The goal - what is the goal? What are you aiming for?
Everybody needs Jesus!
Erm, I've got at the back here, a notepad.
And I'll link to a, a, a little vlog I did the other day about my little notepad. Because what I got into the habit of doing is getting so busy doing all the things that God would want me to do in a day, I forgot to ask if God wanted me to do them.
I just had this To Do List filling up and I wasn't checking in with God, so actually what I've done is: we have a whiteboard as a family; the week's stuff that we all have to do goes on there; any blanks we can start to fill in - not to fill in all the blanks, but so we can get all the things that we needed.
My little notepad, here, this is how I actually write down what I've got to do in a day. I then go away. I take this list. I pray through it with God. I stick it in a priority order, based on what I've been praying through - what does God want me to do, to the best of my prayerful, biblical ability?
And then I have a to do list to follow that isn't overwhelming.
When we're talking about staying on target one of the things we need to do is to get rid of all the rubbish, all the dross that is around us that is preventing us from seeing the goal. We also need to move towards the goal, so To Do Lists can be a part of that.
Becoming a millionaire may be God's plan for you - to witness to millionaires too. It may well not be; it probably won't be, actually - 'cos there aren't that many millionaires in the world, but there are lots of people who aren't millionaires, who need people just to show them Jesus Christ.
Let me just pop into Romans to read this as I finish. Romans 12 verse 2.
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing, you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable".
M To Do List can be filled with: feed the poor, pray for so and so, so some good, help a charity - they're all good things, but if it's not God's will for me it's a waste of my time and others. And I'm preventing others from the opportunity of doing what Gods asking them to do.
A wonderful minister, great man of God - years and years ago - he was a minister who trained other ministers and he says this, well he said this when he was teaching and training: 'as a minister, it's so easy to do the grass and cut it; to fill the water for the plants to put the hymn numbers on the board, to do the speaking, do the service ordering, welcome people, put the books out, tidy up, clean up, get the hoover out. But when you're doing all of those things as a church leader, what you're doing is preventing someone from mowing the grass, you're preventing someone from putting the hymn numbers out, you're preventing someone from greeting, preventing someone from…'
We need to be careful when we're saying yes to things, that were not saying - to others -yeah, you can't do this; that we're not preventing their walk, we're not causing them to stumble.
So staying on target.
What is God asking you to do?
What is God asking you to let go of?
What is God asking you to prioritise?
And how are you trying to make sure - I'm doing it with a little notepad - how are you making sure that what you're doing is what God is asking you to do?
If we can't please everybody, because we can't - we can't please everybody - we may not bother, not trying, sorry, we might as well not bother trying to please everybody.
So we can please God.
I can't pray for everybody in the world, but I can pray for the people that God wants me to pray - so let me get on my knees and see who does God want me to pray - I can't help everybody so who does God want me to help?
'Cos if we're helping someone that God isn't asking us to help, we're walking in our own strength, we're getting tired, and we're stopping someone else from having the honour of helping somebody else.
So whether you do it this way with a notepad, we I have a digital To Do List as well. We also have a whiteboard so we know what has to be done - time limited stuff.
We also say God, what are you asking me to do?
So my question is what is God asking you to do?
And what is God asking you not to do?
So they can stay on the target that He has for you.
And the same question for me - what is God asking me today so I can please Him?
Can't please everybody. We can only please God - that should be our goal in life and it's liberating and it's refreshing.
So who is God asking us to help? And who is God asking us not to help? So we can honour other people by letting them honour Christ in their own walk.
Let's take time everyday to make sure we're doing what God's asking us to do - not just burying our head into the business.
But putting the business at the feet of Jesus, knowing that He will not ask us to do more than we can cope with - with Him!
Written by Andy B