What’s With All The Drama?

In my preparation for this Sunday’s message I thought about Mary and her incredible attitude to all that the angel Gabriel said to her. Imagine being told you that you would give birth to the Son of God.

Thing happen to us and we can go crazy. We lose all sense of perspective. We question our faith. Maybe we have a momentary ‘freak out’. Something unexpected is happening and we start to fall to pieces.

Yet with Mary…no drama.

As usual the Bible is understated in it’s recalling of this encounter. Mary maintains a coolness that most of us probably would not have managed. Not even a shriek, or a ‘no way’. Just a simple question, ‘How can this be?’

I’m not wanting to make little of all that we can be called to trust God in but I look at Mary and marvel at how sometimes I have possibly over-complicated my response. She had trust in God. She took the angel at his word. She was not so precious about her wonderful life to consider that the life that God was asking her to embrace would be even more wonderful.

She didn’t say no. I’m guessing the reason we hear about Mary is because she said yes. She held loosely to the thing which most of us hold tightly to and went with what God was saying. Her future laid aside for Gods future.

‘Let it be to me according to your word’.

I want my life to be wonderful. Help me Lord to have that simple faith that Mary displayed. I may not always understand or even like what is happening sometimes but my faith and trust are in You. Let it be to me according to Your word.

God Says Things Worth Hearing

My previous post encouraged us to be people who say things that are worth hearing. Not just opinions for the sake of it but the right word spoken in the right way at the right time.

Today I want to remind you that God is always saying things worth hearing. It maybe an audible like cry, perhaps a whisper from heaven or even a gentle nudge that you just know is the Holy Spirit prompting you to a response.

So here’s my challenge this morning that I’m hopeful will encourage us all in our faith and in our walk with God: tell the story of your whisper.

How about we all share our experiences in the comments below and help others see that God isn’t just into the big stuff of life but very much a part of the everyday, mundane, little things too.

Here’s what to do:
1. Take a moment and describe a time when you heard a whisper from God/were aware of His prompting.

2. Explain how you responded.

3. It doesn’t have to be recent. It could be something from way back that had a meaningful impact on you.

Thanks for sharing!

Say Something Worth Hearing

Heard a comment the other day about how some politicians when they sit through a 20 minute interview their aim is to just make sure that they answer the questions without really saying anything. I think we could agree that on most occasions they are doing that really well.

Political commentators would argue that that is why people like Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson do so well. They have nothing to lose and are therefore more willing to say something that people will actually listen to. Even if what they say isn’t necessarily right and maybe the majority don’t always agree with them.

As Christians I think we are guilty of falling into the category of being people who speak without really saying anything. We avoid conversations so we don’t get caught into giving a comment that might polarise opinion. We keep ourselves in the safe zone when it comes to dialogue and we go through life loving Jesus but hoping no one really finds out.

I’m not advocating that we just say anything. That’s silly. We have to be measured in how we speak. We have to be truthful when we speak. We have to treat our words with care. What we must never be though is just bland. Jesus was never bland. When He spoke people listened. It provoked. It challenged. It created conversation. He spoke truth. He showed grace.

Jesus said something worth hearing. We must do the same.

Next time you find yourself in a conversation that calls for an opinion, why not give it. Not with a pointed finger in the face. I’m not meaning an ‘I told you so’ opinion but rather a well thought out point that lines up with the word of God. Do it well. Speak from your heart, from your beliefs and to be honest, worry less about what others may think.

Say something worth hearing. The alternative isn’t worth the effort.

The Power of YOU

You have incredible power. To change the environment. To influence the lives of those around. To do nothing.
You have incredible power…and you get to choose.

Live the Christian life in the knowledge of how God sees YOU.
Live the Christian life purposefully in light of how others see YOU.
Live with the determination to be the REAL DEAL.

We underestimate the power working within us because we measure that power based on us and not on the fact that it’s God working through us!

The power of YOU can help create the right kind of culture…for the Church and for your own world.

A culture of HOPE.
Comes from living the life that God intended. Believing that Jesus truly is the hope of the world. Knowing that as we live a life of honesty and not hypocrisy people see that hope demonstrated on our lives,which in turn provides hope for them. If God can do it for you and me, He can do it for others too.

People need to hear the stories where hope was displayed. Your story. Told at the right time can illustrate hope.

A culture of HEALING.
Jesus did not come for the healthy but for the sick. Many people live in a state of hopelessness brought about by sin, brokenness and aloneness. Our lives can reveal a God that takes those suffering and cast down and reshaping them into something beautiful and full of God-given potential.

People need to know there is a place that will not only stand with them but also show them the process healing can sometimes take. You making yourself vulnerable and willing to share your story will illustrate the power of a God-dependant lifestyle.

A culture of CONNECTION.
Without connection can hope and healing truly happen? Connection brings depth. Brings strength. Brings support. People flourish with the right connections but survive and make-do on a diet of shallow relationships, many vian ‘social network connections’ instead.

People need to connect. They need to connect with you. To truly know you. The secret weapon to reaching those far from God is you and me. If we don’t do it nobody may do it!

Make sure the REAL YOU is standing up and being counted. What a difference that person can make. Then we have the environment for ordinary people to come, be themselves amongst others being themselves with God at the centre of all they do. That can create a culture of change. That can create a culture of growth. That can create a life-transforming culture which we get the privilege to have front-row seats for.

Why wouldn’t you want to be in for that?

The Thinking Process

Preparation for Sundays can become all-consuming.

Taking the theme, the Word, the idea or concept and then allowing it time to ruminate within. It’s a fine balance between making sure it’s what God wants to say and not what I think God wants to say. Maybe there is a set formula, something I should be doing – if there is can someone let me know.

I like to see the whole thing in front of me so I can see the journey that the series will take people on. That is vital. So, plenty of plain paper, lots of scribbles of thoughts, ideas, stories and verses attached to the theme or main areas within it. It’s difficult to explain but I guess as long as it makes sense to me.

I then carry that stuff with me all the time, chewing over it, praying over it, making the message part of me, talking it out loud – goodness knows what people driving by me think. Doing this gives me time to get Gods view on what is in my heart to share. I am of the opinion that if what I am going to preach is real to me, then it helps me connect with those who will hear it and it makes it more real to them.

Preaching is not about me – its about equipping people with the right tools to walk their Christian life well, wherever they do life. This series on the Words of Jesus (see previous post) is going to be amazing but with a series like this, the burden of responsibility has already begun to kick in – bringing the right word, making it relevant to peoples circumstances whilst challenging them too, speaking the truth and allowing God to have His way.

Update: getting excited about delving in the Red Letters – the Words of Jesus. It’s interesting to think about what His words are full of, how they challenged when they were first heard and continue challenge today.

Romania Trip

Trip went well. Leadership session was fun.

Didn’t know what to expect about a country that I knew very little about but my highlights/observations

1. It is a land of contradiction
Passing clapped-out car, with wisened old-lady in traditional wear, holding latest mobile phone.
People are building ‘Beverley Hills’ style homes in a rather curious way, giving an impression of great wealth but the water system is a well in the garden

2. Language is impossible to pick up
You know if you go to some countries you can start to understand certain phrases – not Romanian, it just seems to go on forever

3. Explaining team exercise through a translator
Trying to complete two simple team tasks was hilarious – I think it took nearly 10 minutes to get them to understand the task of untying yourself from being knotted together. Guess you had to be there!!

4. Impacting leaders in another country
What a privilege. Really enjoyed it – talked about some simple stuff ‘what makes a great team?’ plus did stuff on Values and got them talking about what they want to see happen at the Church they are a part of – great discussion with lots of thoughts

Random Leadership Thoughts

Not spent as much time over the last two weeks on the whole ‘Why leaders don’t make it’ as I should but my thinking continues to be challenged.

Spoke at Planet Youth on Friday about living a BIG life and what it takes. It was fun. Only did one point ‘Being Safe Is Risky’ – to live a BIG life you cannot afford to stay safe – the risk being you will get left behind or miss out on stuff you could have done. Don’t blend in, you have to stand out to be remarkable.

I loved the opportunity which doesn’t come around very often and really enjoyed myself.

Tomorrow I fly out to Romania for a week. I will be doing some leadership training which I am excited about but also a little nervous. As any leadership trainer knows, you always want to make sure that what you are talking about is what they really need to hear.

The topic is Potential – another one of those areas which can frustrate you in the devleopment of leaders. Too often people continue to be described as the person who has great potential but they never quite fulfil it. Perhaps this is another leadership test which some don’t pass so they never make it as a leader. My challenge – share ideas and thoughts which help these young leaders realise their true potential.

Heading Off to Romania

Looking forward to a trip to Romania in just 3 weeks. Its going to be great for many reasons:

    1. The wife gets to see her parents who are busy over there planting Churches
    2. My beautiful daughters get to see their grandparents
    3. We get to sample a new culture and way of doing life

Plus I get to do some leadership training with the leaders from the various Chruches that they are involved in. Should be good fun, with a little bit of the healthy fear we need from time to time. I’ll definitely need God. Just taking time, thinking over what they would value the most – any thoughts?