Camel Choking, Creativity & Productivity

I want to introduce you to the gentle art and joy of camel choking.

It’s transformative – particularly in the spheres of creativity and productivity.

It’s an ancient art. And true Masters are rare.

But we’ll come back to our humping friends later.

Speaking of friends, I’ve just come back from spending two days at my best friend’s house. She probably wouldn’t describe herself as having the gift of hospitality. But she’s always been beautifully hospitable to me.

It’s been thirty years this year since we first travelled overseas together. We discovered a lot about each other on that trip. She knows me. And she loves me.

Her prophetic hospitality preemptively provides what I want without me even having to ask.

But this morning as we were leaving, I realised I’d never been through her front door. I asked if I could use the front door on my next visit. Her husband said “No. Only people who are selling something come to the front door. All our friends and family know to use the backdoor.”

Stories are like that. They have a creative backdoor way of accessing parts of our heart that are intimate. Statements and strangers might try and knock on the obvious entrance way. But they’ll be left on the front porch with their pitch. They’ll never know the real way to get inside us. They’ll never be invited to relax and hang out with us on the back deck overlooking the lemon tree and other things we’re nurturing in our private garden.

Maybe that’s why Jesus made up so many stories.

But He also warned us not to neglect the front doors – the obvious pathways – the things designed specifically to be entered into first.

Can you imagine if Jesus was a full-time blogger? I love the language and imagery He used to describe our very human ability to miss the bleeding obvious.

“… you are blind! Think about a man picking a little fly out of his drink and then swallowing a camel! You are like that.” (Matthew 23:24 ERV)

I’m starting to realise I catch too many flies. And I inadvertently swallow too many camels.

Camels are designed specifically to be too large and too lumpy to sip down without realising it. And yet, sometimes, I do.

I get so consumed with the tiny fly details of everyday life that I overlook the obvious. I drink in negativity and stress all too easily and i neglect to pause and recognise the positivity and productivity that’s found in the bigger issues of life.

Lately, I’m determined to choke on the camels.

One of the large and lumpy things I think I’ve missed, is the very first verse in the Bible.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created…. 

There was darkness and chaos and lack, but God created something beautiful.

He didn’t try to make the best of a bad situation. He created a new situation.

Another version translates Jesus words as “you are straining at gnats”. Part of the flies in my drink are when I’m straining … straining to be more patient, less judgemental, more kind and loving.

All the things that I know Jesus displayed.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the “exact representation” of God (Hebrews 1:3 NIV).

But why am I straining to be more patient and less judgemental when the front door that God created for me to enter into first was the door of creativity?

The first time God mentioned love, prayer, scriptures, church, faith and patience are practically light years away. But He shows off His creativity in the first verse.

If you’ll make time for church and prayer and scripture – you’ll do well.  But can you first create a little more time in your schedule for creating? I promise you it’ll be transformative if you do!

The exact representation of God must first be creating. And when I look at His exact representation Jesus was creating all the time. Some of His best creative works were His stories.

If being a creator is the front door of being more Godly, then creating stories is the front door of being a creator.

I have no idea (let alone any other of the required capabilities) how to create a whole universe. But even children can create a story.

One time when I was a children’s church leader, I was putting up the Christmas tree and one of my toddler congregation, Naomi, came in not long after I had just started. Curious about the still bare tree, she asked me “where are the decorations and the presents?”

Feigning a panic, I invited her to be my co-creative and solve our universe of the darkness, chaos and lack.  “Oh no – there’s no tinsel and no presents! What are we going to do?”

She took it all in her stride. She shrugged her shoulders and held up both hands. Then emphatically said “It’s okay. We can just pretend we’ve got them.” Then, clearly satisfied with her solution, she joyously skipped outside again.

The story she’d told herself was one where the lack of presents and tinsel didn’t exist anymore. She’d created a pretend universe where “we’ve got them”.

If creativity is the front door of Godliness, and stories are the front door of creativity, then the story of the seed is the front door of stories.

The Parable of the Sower, as it’s more commonly known, was a story Jesus specifically designed to be the large and lumpy first thing we enter into.

“Jesus told them: If you don’t understand this story, you won’t understand any others.” (Mark 4:13 CEV).

This story is kingdom kindergarten. It is an opportunity to find the ideal way to multiply. The first few times, the sower failed. He failed to find a place where his seed could do what seeds are designed to do – reproduce themselves; in other words create something new – the exact representation – from the old.

The camel is obviously to create a copy. That’s what great about stories. They are highly leveraged – they can be copied over and over and over again – for free. I’m still copying this story a couple of thousand of years later – talk about reaping a harvest!

Thousands of year before Jesus told this story, this was the first commandment that God gave us (before He gave us any of the more famous commandments).

Genesis 1:27-29 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

29 And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

Our design, our blessing, our gifts are all about productivity; to be fruitful and multiply, to be seeds who create trees and produce fruit that yields seed … copying ourselves to create a new generation of copiers.

Patience, and all those other Christ-like characters are fruit. They are reproduced. They are created copies. They can’t come from spending our time straining, only by creating. When we do the creating part, they are the natural, joyous ending. If we try to achieve them outside of the creative process – it’s like trying to produce an orange without an orange seed – it’s at least straining and stressful, if not impossible!

I shouldn’t be straining at the gnats of impatience in my life. They should be swallowed up. By what? By the large and lumpy works of creativity that I’m producing. My camels should be huge enough to be a choking hazard for anyone!

When I see Jesus interacting with people, He doesn’t seem to be straining at their gnats, He seems to be creating. When people are hungry, He reproduces lunch. When people were maimed, He creates limbs. When people are hurt, he creates love. When people have died, He creates life.

Sometimes, He’s creating curiosity, then surprise, and healing, like with the woman at the well. Jesus enjoyed that so much, He skipped a meal to do it. There’s a bouyancy that creativity brings that’s better than breakfast!

When He first called the professional fisherman, He created a great catch of instant income for them. In the same place they’d ended up broke the last time they tried it, He created so much their nets broke! When it was tax time, He created their tax money.

When those same fisherman saw Him walking on the waves, they were terrified. He turned their fears into an invitation to have fun when He said to Peter, “Come!’.

Lunch, love, life, limbs, curiosity, surprise, income, fun…. It may seem obvious, but what if being more Godly was just about ignoring all the gnats you’re not and choking on the camel of creativity? For God, it was just the beginning… and it brought about a total transformation. I wish you a new beginning – not just in your personal relationships but in your business productivity and income, too.

For me, I’m spending a lot of time in kingdom kindergarten – story-telling. Making stuff up is way more fun than straining to be patient. As I’ve started treating everyone I meet like they are a patient who’s just entered my creativity clinic, being patient has become a tiny gnat issue. I’m rediscovering what a joy it is to truly live like Jesus – not just for me – but for all those around me. I’m gonna make more stuff up!

Kisses, cupcakes, comedy, camel stories… What will you create for the next person you meet?



Sales Perfection

I was struck by the instructions of Jesus in Matthew 19:21 this morning.

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

This dude had it pretty good, already. He was a Rich, Young, Ruler.

When you’ve got wealth, youth and leadership on your side, life must seem pretty perfect already.

So it would’ve been more shocking than if Barnaby Joyce himself had fallen pregnant to be told to give away everything you had.

But Jesus didn’t say to merely give away everything he had. He told him to go and SELL and then give the money away.


Why did Jesus tell him to sell?

I have no idea, really. But I’ve been thinking about it …

  1. Humility – sales is inherently humbling. I once had my house on the market for six months without any offers to buy it – despite lowering my price by over a hundred thousand dollars (from $599,000 to $499,000). As a ruler, he would be used to just decreeing and have others obey. But you can’t order your customers to order.
  2. Agreement – you can’t sell anything unless you and the seller can agree. The kingdom of heaven operates within the power of agreement. You have to learn to agree with God’s word, despite what experts (like doctors) or loved ones (like family and friends) or circumstances tell you. Agreement is so powerful that Jesus said that even just two or three people can agree, He will show up personally!
  3. Relationship – sales is an inherently relational activity. Even when your sales is to corporates or governments, you need all the “working together” skills. Even turning his personal taste in precious possessions to money so that the eventual recipients could buy whatever THEY wanted, would give our rich young ruler the skill of thinking about the other person’s needs and desires.

What do you think? Why did Jesus suggest he sell? And why tie sales together with being “perfect”?


Attracting Younger Members Masterclass

The Attracting Younger Members Masterclass with Seth Brooks live from Portland, Oregon was amazing!
Seth revealed his secrets for reaching 5-10,000 young people every week
How he doubled a young adults group in less than 60 days
Where young people gather (online and offline) so you can reach large numbers easily and instantly
Leadership Lessons for Growing Organisations

and literally, much, much more!

Aaaaaand because I love you, I’ve made the replay available.

Oh yeah, and it’s FREE!

Simply, go to our ShazMedia channel to register and you can access the replay immediately.


Global Networking

My focusing phrase for 2016 is “Expand and Advance”.

I’m planning to expand and advance in many areas this year.

One of those areas is to expand my global network.

I’m looking primarily for Christian business people in Australia, as well as all different parts of the world.

I’m also looking for people who have nothing at all in common with me. People who will challenge, critique, educate, inspire and stretch me.

So if you’d like to join my global network this year, please follow the blog, leave a comment and let me know how I can serve you. #GoGlobal

global network

Mastering Social Media in Ten Seconds


On Snapchat the MOST time you can spend on any one post is 10 seconds. Yes, even a video is limited to ten seconds. If you only want to take a photo, well you can do that in a “snap” 😉

More than 60% of 15-34 year olds use Snapchat. And,yes, there are over five billion video views EVERY single day on Snapchat.

S-oooo if you haven’t got a lot of time to spare and you still want to get your message out there, Snapchat is the place to share.

If you want to connect on snapchat like all the cool kids are doing, use your mobile phone’s camera to scan my snap code. Just press and hold on the screen and you’ll be able to see my snapchat stories. Magic!

Or if your magic powers fail, just search for “shazjones” and you can follow my story 🙂


Righteouness and the Penis – Spiritual Responses To Marriage Equality and Homosexuality

This is just a few “first thoughts” on marriage equality. Please allow me the freedom to renew my mind at a later time. I often do. My own assessment, for what it’s worth, is that my views are probably viewed by those outside the church as conservative. But they are more liberal than they used to be. And may be viewed by many inside the church, as too liberal!

Firstly, marriage equality, or same sex marriage, is primarily a secular issue. The church is not driving this issue. Some see it just as a “storm in a teacup”, driven by the media, and expect it to fade away like all fads do. I don’t. I see it as much more significant than that.

Secondly, the issue is only about marriage. It is not illegal to be gay in Australia. The issues regarding decriminalisation of homosexuality were settled in every state and territory as well as at a Commonwealth level by the end of last century.

Thirdly, if you want to get married in Australia, no matter how spiritual or “righteous” the couple, it is ultimately a legal issue, not a church issue. You can’t do it without a government issued licence and a government approved official to “solemnize” the marriage. It’s about what is legal now and changing those laws.

Having said that, if this is an issue the church wants to fight, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the secular battlefields (e.g. parliament, courts, media etc). Paul talks of mighty weapons that can destroy strongholds; imaginations, thoughts and knowledge. (2 Corinthians 10:4).

Since these weapons are largely about thinking (imaginations, thoughts and knowledge), I thought I’d do some thinking!

I’d love to tell you what Jesus said about homosexuality.

But Jesus didn’t say anything at all. So that was a short conversation!

Some people have criticised various church leaders of our time for being “evasive” on the subject of homosexuality.  Seems they are in good company.

I think that Christ’s silence tells us a few things.

  1. Major on the Majors – Jesus majored on the majors. And homosexuality is not a major issue in the kingdom of God. There are about 200,000 words in the New Testament, and only about 40 of them relate to the topic. In other words, there are about 5,000 other “slices” of the New Testament that we could choose to focus on. Jesus didn’t say anything about it, Peter, James, John, and Luke didn’t write anything about it.
    Only Paul even mentions homosexuals – and it certainly wasn’t a major theme. We are misrepresenting the whole message if we continually focus on only the minor issues. Paul’s main themes were grace, faith and righteousness – how to be right with God. And he was very clear that what you do with your penis has nothing to do with righteousness now, and didn’t even way back as far as Abraham’s time. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
  2. Preach The Good News – Jesus did talk about sin and about how he came to take away sin. But He never personally called anyone a sinner. In John 9 the disciples wanted to label someone who was born with a visual impairment. They asked whether it was the man himself or his parents who sinned. Jesus avoiding an awkward conversation about in vitro sinning, quickly said “Neither”. Then He redirected their focus “so that the work of God might be displayed in his life”. Some Christians like labelling sinners the way that Oprah likes giving away new cars “You’re a sinner, you’re a sinner too, everyone’s a sinner!” Jesus never called anyone a sinner. Preach the good news, not the bad news. Everyone can have the work of God displayed in their own life.
  3. Expand The Kingdom – In Matthew 23:13 Jesus gets His cranky pants on because the religious leaders weren’t letting those who wanted to enter the kingdom of heaven get in. If you look at what Jesus did, and later Peter and Paul, it was all about expanding the kingdom – women, lepers, tax collectors, Samaritans, prostitutes, Italians – almost anyone! Jesus told us that God’s will is that none should perish (John 3:16). It is my feeling, (and again, I could change my mind on this) that we are at the precipice of a great expansion of the kingdom of heaven, similar in significance to the days of Jesus, Peter and Paul.

So nothing on homosexuality. Lots of good news on the kingdom; faith, love and mercy.

But what did Jesus say when he was asked about marriage (Matthew 19)? I like the fact that this was not a sermon inside a synagogue, or a letter dealing with every matter related to the subject. It was just a conversation and it was in public. And Jesus engaged rather than evaded the topic.

Lately, a lot of people want to start these kind of conversations with me in person and on facebook, twitter and other public forums. Here’s how Jesus handled it.

Haven’t you read?” If you’re going to have a position on it, make sure you’ve done some reading! I find a lot of people who are talking about the bills being introduced to parliament haven’t actually read any of the bills. Even if you haven’t read any of the bills, at least make sure you’ve read what Jesus had read – the word of God concerning marriage.

that at the beginning the Creator ‘made the male and female’ and said ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Jesus firstly points out that times have changed. He defines the correct time to assess something is to look at God’s original intent – how it was in the beginning. He points people to the ideal scenario. He also makes it clear that if God’s intent is to join people together, man’s intent should not be the opposite of that.

He is then asked why Moses provided a certificate of divorce for men to separate from their wives. Great question! Moses was a man, but he was also God’s highest representative on earth. He effectively changed the nation’s laws to facilitate the opposite of God’s original intent. Here’s how Jesus explained that.

Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” Notice that Jesus didn’t condemn Moses. What Moses did was radical – it was not reflecting the original intent for marriage. It was recognising that times had changed, and it was reflecting the nature and character of God.

  1. Provided – Moses provided for the people who found themselves in a situation they didn’t want to be in. When we respond to people, we should respond out of a heart of Jehovah Jireh, the Provider. Don’t try and withhold something from people, try to give something to them.
  2. Certified – Moses gave approval. Not just turning a blind eye, but written, legal, authority, to do the opposite of what God originally intended. When we respond to people, we should respond out of a heart of Jehovah Tsidkenu, The Lord our Righteousness. Let’s find a way to make people morally right and guiltless, not shamed, sinful and wrong.

Also, I find it interesting that Jesus diagnoses the problem “your hearts were hard”. He makes it their problem and makes it clear it is a heart issue.

There’s three things I find instructive about that.

  1. Legal Solution – the prescribed solution was a written, legal one that certified their problem, not removed it.
  2. Leadership Solution – the solution came from God’s leadership, under His law, not by making the person change themselves.
  3. Love Solution – the solution allowed the heart to stay hard towards their ex-wife but also gave them freedom to find a new wife that they could be soft-hearted towards. There was hope for a new beginning and a new result.

Again, though, Jesus starts telling us the time. This solution, He reminds us, was not the “ideal” that God created in the beginning, it was just dealing with the “real” – hardness of heart. The Voice bible translates this verse this way “divorce was an innovation, an accommodation to a fallen world”.

Jesus then defines an even newer solution, for a new time – His time. “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.

Jesus explains that adultery is divorce – and remarriage is adultery. If you break the bond of marriage, even if it is done legally under Moses’ national law, it’s not necessarily legal under Jesus’ law that He just made up.

This totally freaks out the disciples. And so the disciples do, what a lot of people do when they are freaked out. They make up their own Disciples’ law. Their new marriage rule is “It is better not to marry” (note, that some of the disciples, like Peter, were already married).

This is where things get really interesting. Jesus doesn’t condemn even this innovative extreme view. He helps us understand how to respond to people, who have their own views that are not based on either God’s original intent, or Scripture, nor the words of Jesus.

Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.” There’s a clear distinction here. If you can’t accept this word, it hasn’t been given to you. We respond individually. Some may accept it, some may reject it. And that’s okay. Don’t expect to be able to accept everyone else’s standards for your own personal life.

Then Jesus goes on to illustrate this important point by talking about a new subject – eunuchs. Eunuchs are those men who had been castrated – i.e. their testicles had been removed and/or they had lost the desire and/or ability to have sex or reproduce.  Jesus introduces a topic about sexual behaviours, and, it has to be said, unusual sexual behaviours, into His response to marriage.

For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.

Jesus doesn’t link any of these three paths to sexual behaviour to sin or righteousness. Obviously, Jesus was a man who had personally chosen not to marry. But He didn’t impose this standard on everyone – only those who can accept it.

So how do you know if this word is acceptable for you? How did you get this way? If it was because you were born that way (naturally) or because you were made that way by other men, it’s probably not a standard that applies to your own personal life. If it was because you made a choice for the kingdom of heaven, i.e. voluntarily, and for spiritual purposes, it is a word that are you are free to accept or reject, and if you choose to accept, then it is probably a standard given to you.

Summing up, Jesus steered the conversation to a few essential points about changes to God’s original intent for marriage:

  • It’s not ideal
  • It’s a different time
  • It’s a heart issue
  • Let’s provide
  • Let’s approve
  • Let’s innovate
  • Not everyone can accept it

Changes to God’s original intent for sexual expression

  • Some born that way
  • Some chose that way
  • Some made that way

What time is it now? It’s not the beginning, it’s not Moses’ time, it’s not Jesus’ time, it’s not Peter or Paul’s time. It’s certainly not Abraham’s time when he was rescuing Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah. It might sound obvious, but Jesus made timing an obvious point in His repeated responses – so we should be mindful of it, too.

None of them dealt with twitter or facebook or blogs or media agendas.  As I write this, the number 3 trending term in Australia on twitter is #ThingsJesusNeverSaid. Some of them are quite funny. Some of them are political. And yes, many of them are about sex and marriage. People want to talk about this.

last supper tweet

It’s our time. What are we going to say to our community?

When we are responding to people, especially the conversations we have in public, let’s be open to new ways of doing things. For some people, that might even mean taking the lead on changing national laws, instead of fighting against them.  For all of us, it should mean we help people manage the real, whilst still reminding them of the original ideal.

For us as followers of Christ, the ideal, is not just about sex and marriage, it’s about keeping the main thing, the main thing – preaching the good news and expanding the kingdom by letting people in not shutting them out.

Finally, a lot of people quote the Apostle Paul and his writings, particularly those to the churches in Rome and Corinth. I have no problem with people quoting these passages. Like Jesus, it’s good to read God’s original intent, as well as what God’s leaders, like Moses, and Paul have historically decided.

But we should keep in mind, that unlike the conversation Jesus was having, these were writings to the church, to tell us how to behave, not modelling how we should respond to others’ behaviour. For example, in Romans chapter one, when Paul points out how homosexuals are without excuse. He is just setting us up for an object lesson in chapter two that every time we judge others we are actually making ourselves guilty and showing contempt for the riches of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience. And that’s important, because God’s kindness is the only reason that we were lead to repentance. Don’t forget, where sin abounds, our role is not to make sure judgement and criticism and punishment abounds. Our role is to promote the kindness of God and the availability of grace that abounds.

Remember, that unless you were born a Jew, the way you got to be part of the Church, was largely based not on a solid sheet of Scripture, but an imaginary sheet in a hungry fisherman’s dream about food. This tenuous vision was followed up with a disembodied voice that told him to eat from the sheet. Peter replies “Surely not, Lord! I have never eaten anything impure or unclean”.

The voice speaks to Peter a second time and says “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean”. (Acts 10:15) The flimsy sheet thing happens three times. It’s really quite ridiculously comical when you think about it!

But from this Peter changes from his “Surely not” self-righteousness to get the revelation that only God can make us clean; “I should not call any man impure or unclean” (Acts 10:28). Of course, the believers criticised him because he ate with people whose penis wasn’t circumcised.  (Paul hadn’t written Romans yet 😉

As radical as it seems, and it is, our entry into the church, was not based on anything Moses had said, or Jesus had discipled them in. We only got in literally between the sheets! And it led to the majority of people who are inside the kingdom now, coming from a place where they were outside of the kingdom before the whole floaty sheet incident.

We are called to be disciples of Christ, not disciples of Paul. So, especially when we’re responding to those outside the church, it can’t hurt to start thinking and talking as Jesus taught and modeled in the marketplace (rather than what Paul wrote, briefly, to those inside the church, who only got in by the skin of their sheets).

Let’s seize the opportunity to provide freedom, grace and God’s kindness to people and invite them to start their own journey of faith into the kingdom, rather than shutting them out. And let’s thank God, no-one shut us out at the sheet stage.

The Temptation of Leadership


If I told you I wanted you to “practice leadership”, what would you do?

Practice, in general has two main characteristics:

1. Previous – it happens before it is needed.

2. Private – it happens away from the intended audience.

Practice isn’t just for beginners. In fact, the best of the best, usually become the best, because they practice the most.

Even elite athletes, like AFL players, will practice every week, for most of the week. Especially before big games, the high pressure encounters like finals that can make or break a season, practice is taken very seriously. So seriously, that sometimes a club will hold secret training and ban the media and supporters so they can hold “closed sessions”.

Playing without practicing never happens.

Practice is the leader of performance.

So, again, if I told you I wanted you to “practice leadership”, what would you do?

For many people, they see leadership as something that happens in the context of the people they lead. So if practice has to happen before you are leading people, and it has to happen in private, away from those people, what can you actually do?

I’ll get back to that in a moment. Firstly, I want to let you into an insight from my failed calling as a concert pianist 😉

When I used to play piano in public, my practice consisted of two main elements.

1. Playing the actual piece(s) that I would be performing.

2. Practicing the basics, mainly scales, that are not fun to either do or watch, and would never be performed in public.

Although preaching is different to a piano recital, I realised the other day, when I was preparing to preach, that I still “rehearse” the actual piece that I “perform”, but what are my “scales”?

At first, I thought it was probably things like prayer, worship, reading the word and so on. But I do all of those things when I’m not preaching. So maybe it’s things like studying – checking concordances and commentaries.

Then I felt like God asked me to fast.

I knew it was God’s idea, not my idea, because I HATE fasting!

Before you click onto another more comfortable blog, I’m NOT saying that fasting is the practice you need to do. But it does help suggest what leadership practice could be.

See, here’s the thing.

The first time Jesus used the word “lead” is very interesting. It was in the context of daily prayer.

“And lead us

not into temptation,

but deliver us

from evil:

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13)

Leadership is the precursor context to the kingdom, power and glory of God.

And it’s a very particular type of leadership. This leadership is all about temptation.

And it is leadership that has two components; not this, but that.

Not towards the very heart of temptation, but away from the kind of evil you need to be delivered from. It’s a directional thing. It’s firstly not heading towards the temptation you’re not in (yet), and secondly being delivered out of the evil you are already in.

What’s also interesting to me, is that the gospels only record one specific case of Jesus being “led” by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 4, Luke 4). When Holy Spirit God was leading Jesus God, He did it before the “performance” of his ministry, and he did it in the wilderness, away from those He would minister to.

And what was the purpose for this divine leadership of God by God? Temptation.
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)

Being led to be tempted, is not the sort of leadership lesson that inspires people to shout “Hallelujah!”. But, remember, this is the ONLY time, that we see God specifically leading God. So it’s significant, even if it’s not pleasant.

It’s almost comical to me that when the devil decides to tempt God, the battle ground is bread.

Baked goods, really? I mean, I love a donut as much as Homer Simpson, but seriously? I would have thought for the “special occasion” of the temptation of Christ, God and the devil would climb into a boxing ring the size of the universe. And they wouldn’t start throwing punches with feeble flesh and sinew like we have, surely? They could fling not just planets or solar systems at each other, they could load up their canons with entire galaxies, right? And I mean they must have advanced technologies that we haven’t even discovered yet! I can imagine God literally unloading voice-activated forces of light and life creating colour and music marching across the Milky Way, as satan under the cover of darkness unleashes demons of death and destruction to turn planets ‘off’ just like a switch… but we don’t have to imagine what it looks like when God and the Devil battle it out, because the bible makes it clear.

It happens with an individual’s private temptation in a time of deprivation.

Fasting isn’t the only way to deal with temptation, but it’s a good start. As a divorced person, I have “fasted” from sex since my husband and I separated. But that alone doesn’t mean I have mastered temptation.

The brother of Jesus, James, puts it this way “ Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) When God and the Devil are fighting, you’re the referee. And temptation is not just about what you do and don’t do, it’s also about a deeper emotional engagement – what you submit yourself to, and what you resist.

When I see baked goods, my natural inclination is to totally consume them – every last crumb. And most of the time, that’s fine. But there are times, in both practice and performance, we need to resist.

We need to practice submission and resistance. We need to do it over and over again. What do we enthusiastically embrace and enjoy? Are they the God things – like giving, worshiping, forgiving, reconciling? Or is there a twinge of the resistance in it?

For me, fasting is one of those things, where I might never be able to fully embrace it, or I’ll at least need more practice. But fasting isn’t the only part of mastering temptation that we need.

If Jesus had only fasted, and not been led by the Spirit, and not engaged in the “It is written” part of the battle, I’m not sure the outcome would have been so good. Jesus wasn’t even led into the fasting bit until after He’d had a spectacular revelation of Father’s approval and love. And even after “winning”, He needed angels to come and strengthen Him.

If Jesus needed all of that to resist temptation, us mere flesh certainly need a revelation of God’s approval, the word and Spirit, and all the help heaven will provide!

And remember, this is just the practice, before we actually start leading people.

If piano players and football players need to practice both the performance and the basics, so do we. Yes, we need to practice all of the leadership skills that we do in public.

But if we, as leaders, are to lead people, even in the Lord’s simple prayer, we need to be leaders who are practiced and skillful in handling temptation in private, too.

Pass the donuts…. 🙂

When you take a fresh look at Christ’s teachings, there’s often an element of temptation that He is leading people out of (if they’re already in it), or away from (if they’re in danger of getting into it). The Prodigal Son was tempted by unrighteous living, the elder son was tempted by self-righteous living. The woman caught in adultery was tempted by unrighteous living, her accusers were tempted by self-righteous living.

We shouldn’t be shocked when our flock say they are battling with temptation. In fact, we should encourage them that they have just signed up for Leadership 101 – The first practice session for all leaders who Father deeply approves of when He is preparing them for the real thing – the kingdom, power and glory of God! Amen.

Now THAT is tempting!

So, I’ll ask again, if I told you I wanted you to “practice leadership”, what would you do?

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Profit …


Like Extreme, we all know love is more than words, right?

Try saying “I love you”, but not showing how you feel. And the love will fade to hurt and disappointment. Soon you won’t even bother saying the words. The emails, texts and facebook messages will simply stop. Even on the most important days. Because words are at the core of the love.

Businesses used to think that way about money and profits.

Profits were about more than money. Profits allow you to grow and invest in new infrastructure, hire more staff and buy income-generating plant. If you don’t have profits, you can’t survive, let alone sustain your service delivery or contribute to communities. But money was undoubtedly at the core of how we thought about profits.

Now a new breed of business is thinking differently about profits.

  • Airbnb is the largest accommodation company in the world. It doesn’t own a single hotel title.
  • Facebook is the largest media company in the world. It doesn’t employ a single journalist.
  • Uber is the largest taxi company in the world. It doesn’t own a single taxi cab.

If it’s not land, labour or capital – the traditional drivers of business wealth – what is it that makes these companies so successful?

Don’t get me wrong, they do have capital, and they are creating jobs, but not like they used to. It’s not showing up on their salary expenses or asset purchases. How do they keep such a lean balance sheet and healthy income statement whilst funding and fueling global growth?

The answer might surprise you. Especially if you’re an accountant or a “numbers guy”.


Behind all these companies is a text-based world. Ideas, thoughts and concepts formulated and translated into software code – the words that computers speak.

But it’s more than words. It’s the people’s words not just the computers’ words.

Facebook realised that even if you’ve never watched the nightly news of politics, murders and sports results, you just might be interested in more personal news, like whether that guy at church is single or not. They didn’t need journalists to bring you that news. They needed to create a way where you can access his words or your friend’s words yourself. They needed to let you share what’s important to you.

Words are simply one of the ways we are designed to share with others. #share

Uber realised that you needed to take shared journeys. Sometimes, you can’t get where you’re going on your own. We all have times when we need help on our journey. And the journey is always about more than the vehicle you arrive in. So they created a way where you can use words to access someone who is willing to serve you and stay on the journey with you until you arrive where you want to be.

Words are simply one of the ways we are designed to serve others. #serve

Airbnb realised that no matter how great the journey is, there are times you just need to stop and rest somewhere. We all have times when we need someone else to be accommodating to us. We all have a need to drink from a refreshing fountain of hospitality. So Airbnb created a way where you can use words to access someone who is willing to let you just rest and be and stay in that place until you are ready to face the world again.

Words are simply one of the ways we are designed to let others stay. #stay

When you allow people to share, serve and stay, those connections create something incredibly valuable. Customers leave the reporter, the ride or the room, with a bonus – a relationship.

Love is more than words. But words, if you let them, will lead you to the core of one of the most valuable assets in the universe; Love. Maybe you’ve got more assets than you realised.

These three companies took land, labour and capital off the agenda, and put relationships in the centre of their service delivery… and a funny thing happened. The profits exploded and expanded globally!

Relationships matter. Except when they don’t.


I’ve seen a lot of things written lately about how relationships matter. And I’m very blessed to have some great relationships in my life – some that have lasted my whole life. Trust me, those relationships matter dearly to me.

But, I’ve had two experiences where I thought one of my more recent relationships were unhealthy and I tried to address the issues. And the people who talked about “valuing relationships” and “doing life together” as their highest value, weren’t even willing to spend fifteen minutes discussing it. Apparently, for some people “life” turns out to be a lot less than fifteen minutes.

The truth is relationships don’t really matter.

What matters are the relationships that you want. Relationships with people you don’t want in your life don’t matter to you at all. Because you’ve already made a judgement on them.

The bad news is you probably don’t matter to the majority of people. And if you don’t matter the relationship is doomed – whether it’s a romantic partnership, friendship, or just business.

That’s why if you ask them to invest a whopping fifteen minutes in fixing your relationship, they’ll just get annoyed.

Here’s some advice from Jesus:

Matthew 10:11-15 Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!

You can tell if people don’t receive you – they always want you to change (or leave). Jesus could solve every problem of every person everywhere, but when he went to some cities, they thought that He was the problem! The good folk of the Gadarenes were so blind to their own problems they didn’t even consider changing themselves – they thought they’d be better off if Jesus just left. So you know what He did? He just left.

You see, relationships that don’t nurture peace are not worthy of you. In other words, they’re not worth it. Don’t fight for them. Don’t invest in them. Not even their dust is worth it! In the words of the great relationship advisor, Taylor Swift, shake it off!

The older I get, the more I realise that people either get you or they don’t. And that largely depends on whether they want to get you or not. Not everyone is going to be “in your tribe”. And if they’re not in your tribe, get out of their tribe quick!

You’ll find that the people who do want to be in relationship with you will be much better companions for doing life together. Those kinds of relationships are so precious – they’ll stand with you through thick and thin. Sometimes, they’ll be the only things that allow you to stand. They’ll nourish your soul. They’ll make you a better you. And the way Jesus tells it, just one good friend in a city or town is all you need.

I’ve found a real key question is “who has asked you into their house?” because if they won’t let you into their home, they almost certainly haven’t let you into their heart.

So, who wants to come over and help clean my bathroom? I promise you can stay for more than fifteen minutes. Because in my home, relationships matter. Except when they don’t.