Wash Your Dishes

By Pastor Steve Kelly / Books /

(Adapted from the Accent of Leadership)

Imagine it is early morning, and you are eager to begin a new day. Rubbing the sleep from your eyes, you wander into the kitchen and prepare a pot of coffee to brew. As the sun’s warm rays poke through the morning mist, your body is ready for that morning jolt of caffeine. As you reach into your cupboard for a mug to pour your hot beverage in, you are drawn to your favorite one. This glossy ceramic piece with the logo of your favorite team is your frequent choice in the morning. However, as you begin to pour the hot black liquid into your mug, your bleary eyes widen in dismay – the inside of the mug is filthy! Unfortunately it is too late, and the coffee you just poured is now ruined.

In this scenario, the cleanliness of the inside of this mug was of utmost importance to your morning coffee experience. While the outside of the mug was sparkling and clean, the inside had bits of dried-on oatmeal or residue from soup that you’d eaten a few days earlier. Whichever, regardless of the exterior of the mug, the state of the inside matters. The same is true of our souls and our bodies. As much as we take the time to shower and use deodorant, we need to be much more adamant about the conditions of our hearts.

Throughout the Gospels, we read accounts of Jesus interacting with the Pharisees, who were the Jewish religious leaders of that day. In the book of Matthew Jesus says to them, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:27).

The Pharisees prided themselves in their ability to uphold the law and present the image of a morally righteous life. However, Jesus’ emphasis was that God was more concerned with the condition of the heart than He was with outward works. This caused conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees on many occasions. The Pharisees were meticulous about maintaining their public reputation, and neglected the condition of their heart, which was only seen by God.

Earlier in this same passage, Jesus compares this lifestyle to a cup that is only clean on the outside. If you clean only the outside of a mug, it is rendered useless, as the inside remains unable to hold anything of worth without tainting or defiling it. This is the same in our lives; if you do not place priority in maintaining a clean heart condition, you will not be able to possess anything righteous within.

As a Christian, this example serves as a condition to developing a spirit of excellence. It is easy to go through the motions of living a righteous and excellent life, but how is your heart? If you are simply doing tasks because they are required of you, or to meet a certain standard, you are missing the point. Excellence flows from a clean heart that is purposed to glorify God, and there is a distinction between accomplishing actions of excellence and carrying a spirit of excellence in your life. Acts of excellence simply focus on the exterior, like the Pharisees, while carrying excellence is ensuring that the inside of the cup, your heart, is clean first. When you direct your focus to the condition of your heart, the cleanliness of the outside will follow. Be encouraged to do things well and to the best of your ability because your heart is set on the things of God and in pursuit of His glory.




Your Destiny is Connected to Your Leader

By Pastor Steve Kelly / Books /

(Adapted from the Accent of Leadership)

Your destiny is directed by your decisions and influenced by the voices you allow to speak into your life. Think for a second – can you remember a time when someone gave you bad advice? I’m sure you can. Perhaps in the moment, their words appeared to provide an answer to your problem, but with hindsight, you realize the folly in their advice. We can only follow those we allow to lead us, but once we allow a person to influence our thoughts and actions, we are giving them permission to influence our destiny. There’s a lot of noise in modern life. The media is constantly sending messages your way. You cannot always control the voices you hear around you, but you can choose which ones you listen to.

Here’s a few points to consider when you choose the voices that will be allowed to speak to your life. First, there is a difference between good advice and Godly advice. As Christians, those who we allow to speak into our lives should have integrity. When a Godly leader influences you, they are offering you their wisdom and accountability and it adds to your personal leadership growth. Do the people advising you demonstrate a life of integrity? Are they well respected by people in the community? Do they have a track record of honor and trustworthiness? Ensuring that you have Godly people speaking wise counsel into your life is a strategic element in pursuing your destiny.

Of course, you have to know where to find the Godly advisors. While it may seem obvious, I have found that many people don’t consider this next point in choosing who they will listen to. The Bible says that the best place to find Godly leaders is in the church. Psalm 92:13 says, “They that are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish…” When you commit to attending and planting yourself in a church, it places you in good soil to put down spiritual roots and grow deeper in your faith in Christ. A healthy church environment cultivates wisdom and growth, which will give you access to the collective wisdom of mature Christians.

If you are not part of a church today, I encourage you to find one. This is a crucial element to growing in your faith. For those who have a church, I challenge you to not be afraid to trust the people whom God has appointed as leaders over your life. Remain planted in those relationships God has called you to be a part of, listen to their wisdom, apply their teaching, and watch your destiny be fulfilled.




Have You Come to Help?

By Pastor Steve Kelly / Books /

(Adapted from the Accent of Leadership)

In the book of Romans the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1 NIV).

The Old Testament describes the sacrifices people made as having a “pleasing aroma” to the Lord. I believe in a similar way, having a willing spirit is also a pleasing aroma to God. God is delighted when you offer yourself to serve His will and to build His church. Sacrifice is defined as, “Surrender of one thing for the sake of something else.” When you sacrifice something, you are relinquishing all control over it. In this case, you are giving up your preferences for the sake of building the kingdom of God.

So what exactly does it mean to be a “living sacrifice?” Thankfully, sacrifice no longer means having to slay animals on altars to compensate for wrongdoing. Instead, our lives are purposed to portray this picture of “dying to yourself” in order that we may live fully for Christ. This means that our lives are no longer all about what we want, but rather about submitting ourselves to God’s plan. This principle applies wherever you are called to serve.

When you enter into a serving opportunity, the best approach is to ask, “How can I help?”

When you ask this question, you are offering yourself to whatever is needed in that moment. Entering a situation with preconceived notions of what you want to do limits your capacity and may even prevent you from helping. Often people are quick to pursue selfish motives, and forget that serving God and building the church are not purposed to bring individual glory. The church is built on Christ and Christ alone, and thrives through the collective willingness of the people. I wonder what would happen if more people were willing to lay down their personal agendas and ask, “How can I help?”  Being a living sacrifice for God is simply having a willing and humble spirit, knowing that you are part of something greater than yourself.




Chivalry is Not Dead

By Pastor Steve Kelly / Books /

(Adapted from The Accent of Leadership)

The word “gentleman”, though not as common in modern life, still holds positive effect. By definition, it means someone who is chivalrous and honorable, and who treats people with the utmost respect. A gentleman behaves courteously with everyone and his manner is easily distinguishable. You can spot a gentleman from afar, as his actions speak louder than words. People who conduct themselves in this way earn the respect of those around them.

I often say that the Holy Spirit is a gentleman, because of how He interacts in Christian’s lives. He is courteous and will never force you to do something you do not want. The Holy Spirit is patient and waits for you to seek Him. After salvation, I believe that the Holy Spirit is of the greatest gift God has given His church. The Holy Spirit is given freely by God to all who ask, and is a vital part of a Christian’s life.  It is a privilege and a joy to be able to tangibly experience God’s Spirit. He is purposed to equip, encourage, and guide you. The Holy Spirit is ready and waiting for you to say the word and invite him in.

Often in life we get so caught up in our own desires that we neglect waiting for the voice of God. Practice listening for God’s guidance, through the Holy Spirit, and allow it to turn into a habit in your life. When you stop and turn your focus back to God, you are preparing your heart to be the most open to what He has to say. It is in the moments when your spirit is still, and the distractions minimized, that the Holy Spirit does His best work. When we seek God we should come expectantly, with faith that He will move.

Matthew 7:7 says, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Like a true gentlemen, He even opens the door for you! All you have to do is ask. I encourage you today, to invite the Holy Spirit to become active in your life. Just as a gentleman’s actions set him apart and are easily noticed by those around him, when you are listening for the Holy Spirit, people will see a gracious touch in your life. When you allow Him to be involved, you will find your spirit refreshed anew, your mind set on Holy things, and your passion for the kingdom of God set ablaze.





By Pastor Steve Kelly / Books /

(adapted from the message series “Vision” by Pastor Steve Kelly)

Vision begins with the Word of God. As culture evolves and changes, the church must always bring every experience, interest or pursuit back to the Word of God. Preaching is great and necessary, but it must be grounded in the Word, and the pastor’s passion for Scripture should be so evident that the congregation has excited anticipation when he/she prepares to read the Word.

We see this enthusiasm on display in the book of Nehemiah. In chapter 8, the prophet Ezra rose to preach and as he opened the Scripture, the people stood and worshipped God. They comprehended just how powerful God’s Word is. Once you understand it’s power, following God’s Word shouldn’t be challenging. It simply requires obedience, and once we follow His Word, we discover knowledge that transforms our lives.

The old adage, “knowledge is power” is so true. How can we know what God’s Word does, if we don’t know what it says? We can’t! We need to consistently pursue Scripture and Christ. It is an ongoing lifelong action that only happens through obedience. God does not require obedience because he wants to be in control, but because He knows what is best for us and only in obedience to Him do we find true joy. Our connection to and love of the Word of God is the source of our vision, and everything we do will come as a result of this revelation and action.

A God vision also requires connection to a local church. It’s critical to our personal growth and the growth of our communities. Vision also requires personal responsibility and strategic generosity. This means that our first fruits, our tithes, go to the local church first. If God’s house does not come first, it is not a God vision. Our attitude toward church should be “What wouldn’t I do/give for God’s house?” Our vision should serve a purpose. If we do not have specific goals to work towards, we need to make some! In Habakkuk 2:2 we read, “And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.” (ESV) This not only requires intentional decisions, but it necessitates a dynamic pursuit.

Is there an area you can commit to strengthening your vision this week? Maybe it’s something as simple as showing up to church on Sunday, or maybe it’s thinking about who you can connect with for wisdom and guidance. No matter what, always start with the Word of God. Our lives depend on what is written in Scripture, and you will never go wrong or miss out pursuing God.