My Week: Friday

Friday is usually a prep day for Sunday. First I needed to sort out the service boxes and runsheets for each location and then I could give my full attention to the message for this week.

I am convinced that every preacher has their own peculiar way of preparing a message. Once you find that rhythm it’s difficult to change and I don’t think it should be either, unless God helps create a new one.

I pray for a hook, a thought, a question to answer, a verse. Just something that will become the one thing I want to leave with those who are listening. Not sure if this is right but it works for me. From there I can dig a little, take as much time as is needed to understand the verse, and allow God to lead me in my thinking as I meditate on it. Sometimes this is with a blank piece of paper and writing what I feel God is saying, other times it involves commentaries and following where that first thought may go.

This week we begin a new series as we head towards Easter. It’s called ‘Love Ran Red’. So my question is this ‘What happened at the cross when love ran red?’ This opens up lots of thoughts but I got 3 words quite quickly which meant I could move away from the books and mull them over for a while.

I always take a break during prep. I cannot sit at the desk for hours on end. Go get a coffee, go for a walk, or for a drive. This space gives me a chance to talk it through. It may look like I am talking to myself but I’m just dialoguing with God. Is it right? Does it make sense? What do you want me to say God?

Once the message is together, all it needs is writing up. Then I just keep praying about it over the weekend. Asking God to speak through me. Asking for the extra that only God can bring. After all, it’s more important that I am sharing what God wants to say, not just what I want to. That can be difficult to know until you are up on the platform sometimes. I remember hearing a preacher say that you should always be about 80% ready, as this means you have to rely on God for the other 20%. Sometimes it feels more like the other way round.

Looking forward to being with our Darlington congregation on Sunday – maybe I’ll see you there.

Add to the mix today we had a birthday in the family. My beautiful wife was another year older. We enjoyed a very early start to open presents for Kerina before the girls left for school, college and Uni. Then she went back to sleep as she wasn’t feeling great.

If you are preacher, what’s your preparation routine? I would love to learn from the collective wisdom of those who read this blog. Thanks

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That Friday Feeling

It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming. That’s definitely a good Friday feeling. For me, everything flows from a Sunday, through the week, to the next Sunday. Our corporate worship is very important and we want to come prepared for a great day in Gods House. We work hard to make sure that the experience people have when they come to Xcel is a great one, whether it’s for the first time or the thousandth time.

Friday is about preparation. Often that means finalising messages that will be preached on Sunday. The run for a service is done on a Thursday but final checks can be done today. Everything gets printed off. Service boxes readied for the volunteers on Sunday. We are improving communications all the time but I hope that most of the time we get it right.

Friday is about Planet Youth. Tonight we relaunch after the summer break. It’s a PY United Night, all the 11-17s together. The team are busy with the finishing touches, not just for tonight but for what we believe is going to be a season of growth in PY. We desperately want to see more young people connect with Jesus. Please pray for the team.

It’s been another full week in the office. I was asked by someone today if I was busy. The answer is yes. There’s always things to do. The list never really gets any shorter. We are just wanting to see a whole load of people become Christians. I love doing what I do. I don’t know if I’m any good at it but I’m working every day to get better at it. There is so much to my role that I am not qualified for (maybe should not have said that), but I hope you know what I mean. I love God. I love my Saviour. I love local church. I love just being able to help make it all happen. I’ve only ever done what was in front of me to do and that will be my philosophy until the day I die.

Next week will be the same, but different. Can’t wait.

How To Walk Into Your Future – Pt1

Shared these thoughts last Sunday as my first venture into our new Preaching Series at Xcel Church about walking into our ‘flashforwards’. Whatever we see in our future – the best part about it is that we can have God right at the centre of it. This means we should be walking ahead…

Confidently
This is a confidence not based on getting the answers we want all the time but based on the knowledge that God will do what is right for us. The two invariably are not always the same. We may not always know our own thoughts on things but God is never uncertain. His thoughts are always working towards the expected end.

As Jeremiah 29:11 says ‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.

God wants us to be able to move ahead with confidence. By His grace & Holy Spirit he directs the thoughts, affections & designs of all. We can take confident steps into our future knowing that He has already thought about them. (Psalm 37:23)

Carefully
Paul wrote in Eph 5:15 (NKJV) ‘See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise’

We want God to use us in the future – thenwe need to watch how we walk, to have a walk worthy of the calling to which we are called. The calling is to that of being a Christian and the opportunities that living out that calling may unfold.

Look at Noah – the Bible says there was something ‘different’ about him. He was a man right with God, careful to keep that relationship right, to always do what God asked him to, to keep his integrity. Maybe that is why God could open up what can only be described as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity.

To walk ‘circumspectly’ literally means to walk accurately, in the right way, frequently consulting our rule – so that we don’t act as fools but rather as people who are wise. Too many give no thought about how things look, about protecting their integrity, to think about how their actions represent God.

Instead of getting frustrated with God and wondering why He hasn’t noticed us yet, perhaps we should take more care how we walk, what we fill our time with and give ourselves greater possibility of ending up where God needs us to end up.

So where do we need to take care? How can we improve your walk?
What are we going to do this year to help us walk more carefully?

How Strong is Your Signal?

Stood in the worship last Sunday morning at Xcel Darlington and a thought dropped in my spirit. As I looked at the flat-screen tv – instead of seeing the words of the songs I saw two small words, jumping about. NO SIGNAL. And it was almost like a nudge from God…that’s the issue with too many Christians, I’m trying to get a word to them but there is NO SIGNAL.

3 reasons why your signal can be low?
INTERFERENCE
DEAD ZONES
SWITCHED OFF

Here’s a thought: there is nothing wrong with the phone. It has everything it needs to fulfil its function. The problem is US, we are in the wrong place, or just not paying enough attention to our surroundings. Move into the right area and suddenly your phone is going crazy receiving texts & emails.

Maybe the same could be said of God. It’s not that He is not working, not listening, not there. God has not moved. It’s NOT God…it’s US!! Going to unpack this on Sunday. There is a challenge in here for each one of us as Christians…to make sure that we keep the signal strong.

Final Thoughts, Ideas & Challenges

Final few things that anyone can do. Things that can help grow the Church. I realise Jesus said ‘I will build my Church’ but we do have the privilege of being involved. One thing I know…I can’t sit about doing nothing just because of what Jesus said.

Challenges #1, #2, #3, #4

Anyway with all that said..why not get involved in some of these…

Final Challenges
#5 Serve. Sundays. PY Fridays at Darlo. Wherever you can.
#6 Bring Someone. Chris Denham is coming on Sunday 7th June – what an opportunity. Or the next series ‘BATTLE OF THE SEXES’ – should be fun (if that’s the right word)
#7 Connect Think about what you enjoy, arrange to do it, get someone else involved – and not just everyone from Church either. My event – squash. Looking for some like-minded people to start a mini-league to run through the summer…email me if you want to join in!
#8 Climb Helvellyn for Cloud Nine. Great sponsored event, raising money to help people. get your work colleagues involved too!
#9 Attend Church on a Sunday. SGs on a Tuesday. Prayer meetings. BIG SOCIAL!!

You know what…I’m not bothered what you do as long as you all do something. You can add to this list too!

The YOU That Others See

This Sunday at Xcel Darlington is going to be incredible. I am excited about what God is doing at Xcel Church, after all ‘He will build His church’ – we just have the privilege of being involved in the process.

Last week we talked about the YOU that God sees. How we are so much more in God’s eyes than we possibly are in our own.

This week:
the YOU that others see.
the YOU that wins people or loses people for God.
the YOU that always leaves an impression.
the YOU that carries the hope to the whole world.
the YOU that builds the Church or not.

Maybe we will use the words – hypocrite, liar, fake.
Maybe that be considered too harsh.

But think about those words in the light of the fact that the BIGGEST turn-off to Church is often the Christians that attend it. We desperately need the REAL ME to stand up

How can we be authentic in a post-Church society?
How can we be naturally attractive to others?
What is the YOU that others need to see?

The YOU That God Sees

Excited about the new series we kick off tomorrow at Xcel Darlington: will the REAL ME please stand up. I am convinced that if we can live our lives based on the way God sees us, then how we live life will be completely transformed. The limits that we put on our abilities will be taken off.

YOU are more than YOU think YOU are
The YOU that God sees is so much more expansive than how we see ourselves.
The YOU that God sees needs to be brought out into the open.
If God says it about YOU then it must be true.

YOU are more than what others think about YOU
Anothers view of YOU can have a limiting impact on what YOU can achieve.
How people see YOU and how God sees YOU are usually different.

YOU are the YOU that God sees
He doesn’t see the stuff that gets your attention – He just sees His child.
YOU are brand new, wiped clean, fresh & full of untapped potential.

The word is full of illustrations where God took someone who did not see themselves the same way He saw them. When they got their thinking about themselves in line with Gods then they did incredible things. This is an amazing truth: WE ALL HAVE THAT POTENTIAL!!

What do you think?

Will the REAL Me Please Stand Up!

New series on Sunday…will the REAL me please stand up.

It’s a debate worth having. If Church is the place of hope then surely the REAL you is so important? The difference the REAL you can make.

The next 3 Sunday’s we will discuss YOU.
The YOU that God sees.
The YOU that others see.
The YOU that is powerful.

If we can be REAL, authentic in our faith, live life not according to feelings, then we can be confident that the life we are experiencing will make a BIG difference.

Big Question:
Does it matter whether you are REAL or FAKE?