Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Sabbath - Think delight not don’t

The Lord’s Day was a big thing as I grew up in church in North East Scotland. It was the day we did nothing except go to church. We didn’t:
  • Watch TV
  • go shopping (even if you could find one open)
  • go out to play
  • play golf (in fact the golf course was closed even to non Christian’s )
  • do housework 
  • put our washing out
  • go to work (the trawlers didn’t leave the harbour till the ‘back o Sunday’ - a second past midnight.
Sunday equalled ‘don’t’ when it should have meant delight!

Check out this quote from Dan Allender from his book Sabbath.

The Sabbath is an invitation to enter delight. The Sabbath, when experienced as God intended, is the best day of our lives. Without question or thought, it is the best day of the week. It is the day we anticipate on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday—and the day we remember on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Sabbath is the holy time where we feast, play, dance, have sex, sing, pray, laugh, tell stories, read, paint, walk, and watch creation in its fullness. Few people are willing to enter the Sabbath and sanctify it, to make it holy, because a full day of delight and joy is more than most people can bear in a lifetime, let alone a week.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Secret Sauce of Private Purity

In March 2001 at the age of 38, I left the business world and transitioned into a role on a church staff team. I had always been very active in church life but now I was fully immersed in the church world and, to my initial surprise, found myself being swept along by a tsunami of teaching on leadership. Looking back now the shift had started years before with good heathy teaching on the character of those entrusted with caring for the flock of God, helping believers take their next step in their Christian journey and prophetically calling people to follow them in the cause of Christ as 'they followed Jesus'.

As so often happens in the church what starts as a healthy challenge or correction can finish with a wild and unhealthy pendulum swing. Book after book and conference after conference focused on developing yourself as a leader, finding leaders, appointing leaders, and developing leaders. Talk of discipleship was replaced by an emphasis on leadership development and leadership levels when scripture to my knowledge is silent on the latter but is crystal clear in its call to 'make disciples.

Of course, I must be careful not to 'throw the baby out with the bath water' and pursue yet another dangerous swing. However, a short story from Pastor Rick Warren during a chat with Carey Nieuholf really brought home to me the crushing failures of our leadership teaching. 

One of the Pastors, from whom I have learned much, but has featured large in creating the leadership culture wave is Bill Hybels formally of Willow Creek Church and Willow Creek Leadership Summit. The great sadness is that all his teaching on leadership was holed beneath the waterline because his public platform life was not flowing in integrity with his private backstage life. Despite teaching others about leadership for decades he created a leadership culture that was abusive and not life-giving.

In the middle of a conversation with Carey about pastors protecting themselves from moral failure, Rick recalls a conversation with Bill Hybels:
'I remember telling this to Bill Hybels back in the eighties. I warned him. I said, "Bill, I think you're flirting with fire the way you travel with female staff and the way you don't hold up lines." And I gave him my Saddleback Ten Commandments. His response to me was "Rick, you're going overboard." That's what he told me. And I looked at him in the eye and I said, "Bill, I'd rather go overboard than be thrown overboard." And he was thrown overboard.'
I also remember hearing Rick say: ‘In ministry, private purity is the source of public power.’

This is true for all of us, whether we are operating in the family, the workplace, the community or the church. If we want to have a powerful impact for Christ in the world, we need to be people of purity.

Lord help me to continue to walk close and consistently with you, allowing you to do the work you need to do in my life that only you can do, enabling me to serve you faithfully with the humble confidence that comes from a heart overwhelmed by you.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Lord why is this?

John Newton wrote:

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know, 
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray, 
And He, I trust, has answered prayer.
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favoured hour, 
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r, 
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel 
The hidden evils of my heart; 
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand
He seemed intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed, 
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this?’ I trembling cried,
‘Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?’
‘’Tis in this way,’ the Lord replied,
‘I answer prayer for grace and faith.’

‘These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy, 
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.’

Sunday, July 26, 2020

50 years and counting

Today my friend and hero Roger Blackmore celebrates 50 years in ministry. Whilst he has been the person on the platform most of the time it is also as much a celebration of his wife Gill who has been there at every step of the 50-year journey. Together they have pastored churches in England, Scotland and of course Long Island, NY.

Roger & Gill have impacted countless lives over 5 decades and I am honoured and thankful to count myself in that number. I guess my story is replicated a myriad of times in many lives. Accepted, valued, encouraged, challenged, mentored and loved are just a few of the adjectives to describe time with Roger & Gill.

I am an avid reader and I am sad to say too many of the books on my shelves are written by Christian leaders who have crashed and burned along the way and many struggling to stand back up. So, in an age when pastors and Christian leaders seem to have a difficult job finishing well 50 years is a milestone worth celebrating.

Although young I was still aware of the tensions encountered when they were leading our church in Cairnbulg & Inverallochy. Transitioning a church is not the easiest thing to do. But walking into Genesis Church you can tell an instant that this church one, reflects Jesus but also the couple who planted it, Roger & Gill Blackmore.

It is a place that is real, honest, fun, gracious, accepting, loving and of course, are passionate about reaching the people who do not know Jesus yet!

 They and Genesis are the real deal.

Congratulations on 50 years, whats next?