I overheard a conversation today whilst having my coffee in McDonald's between a mum and her daughter.
School work was the topic of conversation particularly maths. The young lade was explaining the way she had been taught to do things like long division. She was getting the right answer the mum couldn't understand the method she was using to get there. She had been taught a different way. But instead of leaving it at that she continued to slag off her daughters method.
She didn't understand it so she said what the daughter had been taught was: complicated, long winded, unnecessary and even stupid. Without once congratulating her on getting the right answer.
I felt God say to me with each generation methods change but not the results. Celebrate the results don't diss the method.
Unfortunately too many times in church life each successive generation holds on to their methods or even worse spend their time trying to force their methods on the next generation.
Be a guide, be an encourager but don't straitjacket the next generation with methods that fit you like a glove but become a ball and chain for the next generation.
Lets celebrate the results.
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
“The central question is, are the Leaders of the future truly men and women of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God presence, to listen to God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word and to taste fully God’s infinite goodness?”
- Henri Nouwen
HT Pete Wilson
Or are you envious because I am generous? - Matt 20:15
Jesus said this at the end of His story about the land owner who took a stance of generosity and grace towards His employees. It didn't matter when they were employed during the day he paid them all the same.
Initially that doesn't sound very generous because our minds jump to fairness and the thought that its not right that a person working 1 hour should get the same as someone who has worked 10 hours.
That's when grace fails. When we think its about fairness. God's generosity and grace can not be measured in fairness. It is and always will be a scandal.
It's a scandal that God had to become a man.
It's a scandal that God had to suffer.
It's a scandal that that God the Father had to watch God the Son suffer and die.
It's a scandal that God had to pour his wrath for all our sin on His son.
It's a scandal God's son became our substitute.
It's a scandal that sinful people a pronounced holy and righteous without doing a thing.
It's a scandal that all our sins past, present and future have all been forgotten.
God's generosity and grace fails and produces envy rather that tear stained gratitude when we look at our selves as somehow deserving of it.
Lord let my mind and heart always live in awe of this marvellous, majestic free gift of grace that has crashed into my life and never to share it in fairness but in the same scandalous way it arrived on my doorstep.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Sometimes I think I will never fully understand prayer this side of heaven. But this amazing video from Granger Community Church talked to me mucho.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Jesus told a story about a farmer sowing seed (Matt 13) and likened it to the word of God being preached or heard. I've been a follower of Jesus for 37 years still it frustrates me that my Christian life can resemble this farmer.
I have heard countless messages, sat in Bible studies, read book after book, listened to cassette tapes, CD's and now podcasts. I have read the Bible in many different translations, completed many different reading plans, studied long hours into the night and even spent 2 years in Bible College.
And yet I frustrate myself because if I'm honest only a fraction of the Word has taken root in my heart and produced a harvest. I am thankful for that it has been life changing. But as described in Jesus story, I have allowed His precious word to be taken away from me before it has taken root. I have allowed worries and distractions to kill it in my heart.
God help me to really hear, understand and put into practice your Word in my life much more regularly.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
- God did not call us to play it safe. If Jesus was willing to go to Golgotha we should be prepared to follow him there.
- We need to be so consumed with vision that we say stop playing it safe and do what God has been telling you to do
- The Kingdom of God is not advanced by executives sitting in a 5 year strategy meeting but by ordinary people acting & saying PERHAPS God will show up. (I Sam 14 v 6)
- Pastor - if your church isn't on fire for God...look in the mirror.
- There was never a great move of God in the Bible because some one planned or strategized for it.
- If you're doing something for God the cons will almost always outweigh the pros.
- If you can create a 3-year or 5-year plan for your church...then God is not in control of it.
- You can always submit to godly authority and trust that the end is going to be okay.
- Great leaders say "do I really get to do that?" instead of saying "do I have to do that?
- I don't care who you are none of you understand the pressure Senior Pastors are under.
- Every one wants to know the Senior Pastor but few people care for the Senior Pastor.
The church needs more people like the unnamed armour barer of Jonathan who stood by his side and said on the back of a resounding PERHAPS:
"Do all that you have in mind," his armor-bearer said. "Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul." (v 7)
Thursday, March 10, 2011
- Social justice without the gospel is social injustice.
- When people come to our churches they are starving so we need to give them the BREAD of life - JESUS nothing else will work.
- The Church don't have an agenda it has a saviour.
- Too many people in the Church are obsessed with themselves instead of Him.
- It's funny how we try to control the church but at it's start God put fire and wind together which is uncontrollable.
- If you are not making disciples that reach and make new disciples then you are not making disciples.
- We are approved by God not because of our performance for God but by our position in Christ
- Mature Christians always give up their rights in church first.
- Church...don't confuse reverence with rigor mortis.
- Pentecost wasn't about social justice...is was about in-your-face evangelism. That's why 3000 people came to know Jesus.
- Your church is paying and funding something, either a rescue mission or a museum preservation.
- We wouldn't kick a sick child out of our house but the Church kicks spiritually sick people out all of the time.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Today Nicola and I got the opportunity to visit Newspring Church the day before the Unleash Conference.
We started with their All Staff Meeting. Man those guys were stoked. It was humbling to here one after the other stand up to say what they were excited about and praying for the 2700 church leaders that they would be hosting the next day. I had a tear in my eye for the first of many times over the next two days.
One thing that Perry Noble said to his staff that struck me was: Tomorrow when you are speaking to visiting church leaders don't be an expert be an encourager.
After taking a tour of their building and Nicola getting very jealous of KidSpring we had the opportunity to go to lunch with Lee McDerment and Jeremy Barber from the Worship Team. They took us too what must be hands down best restaurant in Anderson - Sullivans.
Nicola then met with Ken Wilson to develop the graphics for Discovery Kids. He has done a great job so far with some great new designs on the way.
Then we attended Fuse with over 600 middle schoolers. Simply it took my breath away. When the doors opened and the kids streamed in and then started worshiping Jesus it was incredible. Its the first time I have heard a song like Katy Perry's - Teenage Dream. Brad Cooper then brought the heat with an awesome message of God's purity. At the end of the night the students were asked to "lock it down" in prayer. The sight of 600+ 12 to 14 year olds immediately forming huddles all over the auditorium was totally inspiring!
We finished off the day with some pasta with Jason & Sherry Moorhead. I have to confess that I was shattered and my conversation probably made no sense to them. But they were due at the church at 5 am the next morning so I am so thankful that they took the time to be with us.
So we hit the sack, humbled, honoured, inspired and grateful for today and expectant for tomorrow.
Traveled for 20 hours yesterday so a tad tired.
Journey didn't get off to a good start when plane was delayed. Auxiliary engine failed. Captain said that he had to find a new route that meant that we flew over more land. Some regulation. So instead of flying towards France and then across the Atlantic we were to head North over Scotland, Greenland, Canada etc.
The pilot assured us that it was OK and that the Aux engine was the 4th back up. So 3 engines would have to fail before we were in trouble! Also I wasn't sure that flying over more land that was sub zero and covered in ice and snow was concussive to landing!
We then waited 30 minutes at the car rental reception because they could not find our booking. After what seemed a life time they realised they had been looking at the wrong clip board. Just what you need after a long flight at 2 am.
But we enjoyed a chick fil a before hitting the sack.
We are now in Anderson, SC and eating breakfast at Panera Bread before heading off to NewSpring Church to join their All Staff Meeting. Excited beyond words!
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
Today Nicola and I head off to the states for about a week. We have the awesome privilege of heading over to Anderson, South Carolina for a conference at NewSpring Church, called Unleash.
We are looking forward to what God is going to teach us and are reading to listen. We get the opportunity to catch up with some wonderful people from the church that we has started to get to know.
Then we take a few days break taking a road trip down to Florida. Monday 14th March sees my 48th birthday so we will enjoy celebrating that in what will be some nice hot sunshine.
Saturday, March 05, 2011
This week I heard about yet another pastor who has made the catastrophic decision to have an affair. It is catastrophic for the pastor, his wife, his kids, his ministry, the church, the other persons family.
God is a God of grace and restoration and he can make beauty out of ugly things but guys come on get a grip and get some help. I suppose a pastor taking to someone to tell them they are being tempted is a huge thing and too many are too scared to have the conversation.
We have got to seek out and form relationships where we are able to talk about or temptation without it being judged a sin. The alternative is isolation and the possibility of a fall from temptation into sin.
But even if you can't have the conversation watch this video and give yourself a gut check that there is always waking up the morning after.
Friday, March 04, 2011
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. - Luke 14 v 11
In God's Kingdom we are going to be humble.
It's just out choice how we get there.
We can choose humility or he will take us there.
It is amazing how stubborn our pride is.
In the face of an almighty, holy, infinite God
Who chose humility through the incarnation.
We still so often choose our pride.
When His humility extended to death on a cross, our pride encourages us to live a life of pretense.
Let's humbly take our seat at His table with thankfulness and gratitude, keep our mouths closed and leave the rest to Him.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Read this amazing poem by George Herbert (1593 - 1633) over at Desiring God.
Lord, with what bounty and rare clemency
Have you redeemed us from the grave!
If you had let us run,
Gladly had man adored the sun,
And thought his god most brave;
Where now we shall be better gods than he.
You have but two rare cabinets full of treasure,
The Trinity, and Incarnation:
You have unlocked them both,
And made them jewels to betroth
The work of your creation
Unto your self in everlasting pleasure.
The statelier cabinet is the Trinity,
Whose sparkling light access denies:
Therefore you do not show
This fully to us, till death blow
The dust into our eyes:
For by that powder you wilt make us see.
But all your sweets are packed up in the other;
Your mercies thither flock and flow:
That as the first affrights,
This may allure us with delights;
Because this box we know;
For we have all of us just such another.
But man is close, reserved, and dark to thee:
When you demandest but a heart,
He cavils instantly.
In his poor cabinet of bone
Sins have their box apart,
Defrauding you, who gave us two for one.
Wednesday, March 02, 2011
All I can say to this video by Steven Furtick of Elevation Church is AMEN!!!
Meeting a man who was desperate to get his hands on his inheritance Jesus told him the story about a rich fool. A guy that spent all his life collecting possessions. Making warehouses to keep them in, only to knock them down again to make bigger ones, to store even more possessions. Then the rich fool died leaving all "his" possessions behind.
Jesus said specifically: "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." Luke 12 v 15
I have been deeply challenged by the story of a young lady who is making a difference for Jesus in India who has nothing of her own. I on the otherhand have a nice home and lots of stuff.
Sunitha Johnson works in Andhra Pradesh, India.
LightForce International tells the story:
"When Samuel Johnson died his wife and daughter (Sunitha) lost their home and everything they owned. Sunitha - undeterred, committed to live out what her father taught her. 7 years later at 29 years old she is caring for 69 orphans and a group of widows. The community numbers 90 in all and she believes God to provide for them daily.
As if that were not enough she has started 42 church groups in villages throughout a vast area. Many times Sunitha has been stoned as aggressive idolaters have sought to drive her away - but through patience and prayer and a belief in the importance of sharing her life changing message she has prevailed.
She has no home, room, bed or bed sheet - she stays wherever she can, living out of two bags which carry all she has, using a bath towel and shawl to lay on and cover herself at night. She is a real example of sacrificial service."
LightForce International (MKCC's Missions Arm) have partnered with Sunitha to build a "Home of Faith" the project will cost £27,000. Read more about it here and also give towards the work of this amazing lady.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
30 years ago today, 1st March, Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones was released from his long term battle with cancer and went to be with Jesus.
In my book one of the churches renowned preachers and thankfully, through the sermons being recorded on old reel to reel tape, a writer of a number of amazing books. I can still remember picking up his book devoted to the first chapter of Ephesians and being unable to put it down.
In honour of this anniversary the owners of a TV interview he gave have allowed it to be posted on YouTube for a month. So if you are reading this after 1st April I suppose the video will not work :-(
Last night flicking through the endless channels on my Sky box I stopped briefly on the show "New Neighbours from Hell." The essence of the show is entering the lives of people who have had the unfortunate disaster of moving into a house and finding out their neighbours are a total disaster, turning their lives into a nightmare.
Today I read about a conversation between Jesus and "Expert in the (Jewish) Law". (Luke 10 v 25 - 37) This guy knew the Old Testament. He understood it and was able to sum it up in a few brief words. Love God and Love your neighbour. He got it but wanted to limit it in his own life. (So often we do the exact same thing). So he decided to split hair over who was his neighbour.
Jesus does not beat about the bush and he tells a story about a guy who is beaten up and left for dead by the side of the road. His own people go past and ignore, a religious guy goes past and looks the other way. Then Jesus sticks the knife in. The guy that stops to help was a Samaritan. Suffice to say the Jews hated the Samaritans. Jesus picked the extreme example to suggest who was a neighbour. Nothing natural would make a Samaritan stop and help a Jew. But that's where Jesus went in the answer to the question.
Who is the neighbour I should love. The neighbour from hell!