Special Moments

Every relationship needs special moments.

That first moment when you meet your special someone. That moment when you try and pluck up the courage to talk to her, especially awkward when there is plenty of ‘setting up’ going on by others. The exchange of numbers. The phone call to check they are alright. The next time you are together. A walk around the lake. Holding hands. Talking and talking (and I mean talking).

Special moments. Daft stuff really but when you look back you can recognise them as pivotal moments. Those times that make the journey worthwhile and that now, after nearly 21 years of marriage, bring a happy smile to my face.

The same is true for my relationship with God. From the moment of realisation that I needed to accept Him for myself and not just because my dad and mum had. Getting baptised. Being filled with the Holy Spirit. Finding myself leaning up against the church organ after coming round from having been overwhelmed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just learning to appreciate and have an awareness of God’s presence. Incredible moments when the Word of God hits you between the eyes, like they are speaking just to you.

Moments. Many moments. Special God encounter moments. You can’t necessarily build a relationship on them alone but they definitely make the journey what it is. Highlights and marker experiences along the way. Proof of someones love for me. Proof to me of God and His interest in me, plain little me.

Last Sunday was one of those moments. Unexpected in some sense. A Sunday night service hijacked by the power of God. An awareness of His presence. His peace that goes beyond all understanding. His power moving by the Holy Spirit and working in people’s lives. That never gets old.

Here’s the thing I have discovered about such moments. You have to put yourself in the place where they might happen. You have to step out and ask the girl, you have to pursue her, learn to appreciate her and understand how she ticks. There is often a little bit of inconvenience, a little bit of risk, some faith maybe.

It’s true with God too. When His people gather together as family, in His House, then anything can happen. You just have to be there to experience it though. I know that God can move in your living room but there is something powerful when Church is filled with believers. That atmosphere of faith, a determined focus on God, without distraction, time set aside to lift up His name and then allowing Him to have His way. Amazing.

I can’t make you be there, all I can do is encourage you to position yourself in the place where God encounter moments can take place. It may be difficult, inconvenient or a little bit risk but the step of faith on your part will be so worth it.

Life as a Pastor…

Had the Connect Group [CG] leaders round last night. They brought loads of food, lots of conversation. We squeezed them in.

Spent a lot of the day putting the final pieces in the CG puzzle as we make some changes to the structure. Change is never easy. It has to be for the right reasons not just because we can. CGs have been a huge success for Xcel this year, growing by nearly 20% in attendance. From our perspective they are how we measure the health of the church. People connecting, doing life together, sharing the journey, caring for one another, encouraging, supporting and praying – it’s priceless. It’s church at its very best.

As we talk vision, it’s important to recognise those things that work in accomplishing that vision. CGs help us do this. As we grow larger, the community of CGs grows in importance. I’ve never been great with names and with new people joining Xcel all the time, I don’t suppose it will get any easier. CGs provide a way for people to belong to Xcel and find their place. To feel, connected.

We are excited about the future of CGs.
Changing the structure will facilitate growth.
Changing the structure will grow those who are part of a CG.
Changing the structure will help us focus on equipping the leaders
, pastoring people on their journey with God. This is a culture shift for many church-goers who only count a visit or prayer from the Pastors as genuine pastoral care. (Doesn’t mean we don’t do this – just in case you were concerned)
Love that the leaders embrace it wholeheartedly. That certainly makes the change easy.

Begs the question why some people who could be part of a CG aren’t. Don’t get me wrong – that’s not a criticism, just a question. We can only encourage everyone to get involved – the choice then is up to you.

[What do you think?]

God Changed Me

Never forget what God has done for you.

Working in church life all the time you can easily drift into ‘management’ and forget the ‘miracle’ aspect to what God has done and can do with your life. If I’m honest…it’s not difficult for that to happen. God changed me. It may not have been a dramatic transformation but when I accepted Jesus as my Saviour, I was changed. Not sure where I would be if I had not put God over my life.

Read Psalm 18 and see what He has done for you…

‘God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes’ [Psalm 18:24]

My life was changed.
My path was changed.
‘What a God! His road stretches straight & smooth. every God-direction is road-tested. Everyone who runs towards him Makes it’ [Psalm 18:30]

How about you…how has God changed you?

Telling Your Story

This year Xcel Darlington are taking on MASSIVE MARCH and as part of it I am looking for some of the Darlo partners to get filmed, telling their story. Actually, it’s more talking casually about 2 or 3 things that are different in their life because of having God in it!

There is power in the simplicity of someone just being honest, letting people know what God has done for them. It demonstrates God’s incredible grace, it makes people think about what He is actually capable of and you cannot argue with a life changed by God. To deny it, when you know the person, is to deny the wonder working power of our God.

It will take courage, it is a challenge, it might not come naturally but what a fantastic opportunity! Hearing a story could impact someone elses world. It may influence them to change their view on God. It doesn’t need to be dramatic, just good old-fashioned truth about what God has done. Can’t argue with that.

If you are part of Xcel Darlington and would be up for it…then let me know! Are you ready…to get locked on to your destiny?