Whatever you want God to do, I suggest you ask him. Right now.
He might say yes. He might say no.
It might also be a good idea:
* to get some wise advice
* to get to know the Bible a bit better
* to ask whether the thing you want is really the best idea
* to wonder if God's plan is bigger than the thing you want
* to think about anything that God might be saying to you
* to be quiet for a while and savour God's presence without asking for anything
But I still suggest that you simply ask God for what you want. Jesus would ask people, 'What do you want me to do for you?' He still says the same to us.
Some people got a big 'yes' from Jesus; others got told off. The important thing is that the conversation happened.
Saul had always been a religious man. It didn't do him much good. In the end he admitted it. His religion had been a disaster, just a cloak for a lot of foolishness and disobedience. Slavery, not freedom.
He then met God for real. It was a new birth. He was still Saul but he was changed. So changed that a change of name seemed appropriate.
He discovered the kindness and love of God. His life became productive. He tuned into God's generosity and gave it away to others.
The people of Crete had come from a very different background but they had the same needs, so Paul decided to stress some things.
1. It was in Jesus that he discovered who God really was.
2. The Holy Spirit had changed him, so much so he calls the experience a rebirth.
3. He was now in a right relationship with God, in a way he never was before.
4. He now wants to live the new life God has given him, and to get others to do so.
The key to it all is that God has in Jesus revealed his love and kindness. The truth, then, leads to real godliness, not the fake sort that Saul used to practice.
Jesus is the source of real productivity. We are not all like the old Saul but there is still one person like no other in whom God has shown his love and kindness. He is the one to follow.
The task of the church is to make God attractive.
If the church is attractive then people will probably think that God is.
I sometimes find it hard to believe that God trusts us with that task, but he does.
That's what Paul is getting at in Titus chapter 2. He tells people to do a lot of things "so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive." (Titus 2: 10 NIV)
He wants the church to behave so that people will have nothing bad to say about us. (verse 8)
He wants us to be eager to do good.
He says that's why Jesus gave himself for us.
Paul wrote almost 2000 years ago. Some things have changed. To my taste this chapter seems rather sexist. I find it uncomfortable that Paul has nothing to say about slavery. I'm pretty sure that Paul would write some things differently today. But not much.
So here's today's big question: what can I do today that will make the faith I represent attractive? The best answers will probably be drawn out of Titus chapter 2.
I guess many of you have already said 'no,' but stay with it ...
Church leadership is about a lot of things, but mostly it is about setting an example. When you become a leader you get an invisible badge that says 'copy me.'
Scary, isn't it? Leaders set themselves up as the people that others should follow.
The good news is that leaders don't need to be perfect. A bit of honest imperfection actually helps.
So here, from Paul's letter to Tutus, are some areas where leaders set an example:
* in their marriages and other relationships
* in parenting, whether that is with their biological family or others they support
* in avoiding any trace of bullying
* in managing their temper
* in not getting drunk
* in not being violent
* in financial integrity
* in hospitality
* in holding fast to the good news
Quite a list, isn't it? There are technical skills too, but they are secondary.
The more you have these qualities the better you will lead. Anyone feeling brave enough to volunteer?
One more thing - if the correct people don't step forward the wrong people will. The second half of Titus 1 will show you what I mean.
I've got a few. I won't say too few to mention, but I will tell you one of mine.
I regret that I didn't work out how to brush my teeth until well into adult life. Don't rush to me with sympathy; my teeth are ok, but there's been a lot of work in mouth that predates the dentist carefully explaining the best way to brush and floss. When my children were young my catchphrase was 'every bit of every tooth,' a lesson I learned the hard way.
This week is our harvest service and we are supporting a project organised by Operation Agri in Nepal. They do a lot of things; one is that they teach children to take care of their teeth. They also teach them what they should do in an earthquake and many other things.
I didn't know that I was brushing my teeth incorrectly, but boy did I notice the difference when I started getting it right.
Jesus tells us to come and learn from him. I wonder what else I'm doing wrong. I wonder what I need to hear from him. Maybe the work of Operation Agri will help me find out.