Friday, 30 November 2007

Discipleship isn't just about information.... rather application

I read this from Perry Noble today as I was rethinking some issues regarding discipleship. Interesting....

GASP - I Can’t Believe Jesus Did That!

The other morning I read Luke 8:26-39 and I saw something I’ve never seen before–seriously, it hit me right in the face and I was both challenged AND convicted at the same time…work with me here…

In Luke 8:26-28 we have a pretty unusual scene–here Jesus sails into a region and is basically met by a demon possessed nude dude who is running around and screaming at Him. (And you thought the people in your church were weird?)

So, after a brief conversation (Luke 8:29-30) Jesus takes care of the serious ministry issue that is before Him. (Don’t you just love the fact that in Luke 8:31-32 the Bible said that the demons had to actually get permission from Jesus to act–just in case you might be wondering–HE IS SOVEREIGN!)

So…the demons from the nude dude go into the pigs…and they all freak out and run down a hill into water and drown! (Luke 8:33)

The people watching the herd of pigs freaked out (I would have to) and ran and told the city what had taken place. (They were probably tested from drugs on the spot as well.) After they passed their drug test the people all figured that they might need to go out and check things out…and when they got there they saw the guy formerly known as “demon possessed nude dude” sitting at the feet of Jesus in his right mind. (Luke 8:34-36)

From here TWO pretty unbelievable things take place…

#1 - The people ask Jesus to leave!

Every time I read this story it blows me away that in Luke 8:37 the people ask Jesus to get back in the boat and leave. WHAT THE HECK IS THAT? This passage had always pretty much confused me until I recently discovered that pig herding was a MAJOR source of revenue in that area. In other words–these people knew that if Jesus stayed around long enough that it was going to effect their $$$ - so rather than be in awe of the fact that something incredible had just happened they allowed financial fears to forfeit any possibility of Jesus doing additional work in their midst.

#2 - Jesus refused to “disciple” someone!

This one blew my mind–Luke 8:38-39 distinctly say that Jesus refused to allow the former nude dude to get into the boat with Him. Instead Scripture says that He told him, “Actually, what I want you to do is go tell everyone how much God has done for you.” And then Jesus left him…

WAIT…what about Bible study? What about giving him a list of rules and regulations? What about DISCIPLESHIP? Seriously–who in the heck does Jesus think He is, cleansing someone and then not taking him through detox? What was Jesus thinking?

I think all too often we get our views on discipleship from people who have a desire to teach people to think just like them rather than from Christ. (By the way–if ANYONE is an authority on the subject of discipleship…I would pretty much say it’s Jesus!) AND…I am not saying that learning Scripture and Christian community are not important; in fact, I would argue that BOTH are essential.

However, it is clear in this text (and in many others) that a MAJOR part of the discipleship process is actually being INVOLVED in ministry, going and doing something–telling others what God has done for you. Jesus challenged the former nude dude to go beyond himself–to go back to the people he had once frightened and tell them how good God was.

All too often as Christians we believe discipleship is a time where we focus on ourselves–but Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:36-40 align with this text we just covered so well–discipleship is about loving God first…AND OTHERS next. Once this guy discovered who Jesus was he was sent out immediately to tell others about Him…

Discipleship isn’t just about information…but rather application. All this guy knew was who he used to be and how that changed once he met Jesus…and Jesus, for some reason, thought that his conversion experience was sufficient to fulfill what would eventually become known as the Great Commission. I would argue that Jesus discipled this guy by challenging him to GO…and that this dude learned as much by telling his story as he did by reflecting on it.

Friday, 2 November 2007

A reality check

Let this impact your soul today as it did mine.

A Message by George Carlin:

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways , but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbour. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.

We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.


Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Making more connections

Reaching out to people with the love of Jesus is a challenge for every Christian, but it is a part of the our mission and we must be active. God calls us his ambassadors, his co-workers and he even empowers us by his spirit to witness. The message is clear, he expects us to speak up and live out the gospel in our daily lives!

As we go go about our daily business, I believe that God wants us to keep our eyes and ears open to the people around us. After all, he has placed us in the middle of them for a reason. As we work and walk with people, their needs (spiritually, physically, emotionally, practically) become evident to us. Many people will welcome your concern, your help or support, a listening ear or some advice, maybe just a hand of friendship. The challenge to us all as we live our busy lives is are we willing to give or sacrifice our time, talents and maybe even our money and get involved?

As we reach out to others just be yourself! Offer your skills, your talents, your experiences in life and even your interests to connect. If you do not have the ability to help some one, maybe a Christian friend you know does and is willing to help. A thought: Maybe if as Christians we got our act together a little more and worked together, we could have a greater impact in our world. Think about it!

Keep it simple and practical: A man bought a new TV and some of his neighbors were helping him install the antenna on the roof. They weren't making much headway until a new guy showed up with a big fancy toolbox and finished the job. As they stood around congratulating themselves, they asked the new neighbor what he made with such elaborate tools. Grinning, he replied, "Friends, mostly!"

He just used what he had to make friends - easy really. What do you have in the toolbox of you life? Skills, possessions, talents, experiences etc. Are you willing to use them to make genuine connections with others in your life?

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Getting practical with love.

Saw this today that challenged me to my core! We have to make a difference in our world with real practical love for people. Words are just not enough!

Getting Practical With Love

“Little children, let us stop saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions.” (1 John 3:18 LB)

The heart is the control center of all actions. How you act reflects what your heart trusts. Dallas Willard says, “You can live opposite of what you profess, but you cannot live opposite of what you believe.”

Eventually what you believe will show up in your actions. If you believe God loves you, then you’ll begin to love others. If you believe God forgives you, then you’ll begin to forgive others. Your experience of God results in an overflow of his life into the lives of others.

As we allow the Holy Spirit to continually fill us, we become a spring of his love and life to all around us. John would say we have “rivers of living water flowing out of us.” We become a conduit for the life of Jesus.

The life of Jesus is a practical life. The disciples were expected to live out what they heard Jesus say. Jesus told his disciples they would be known by the way they treated others.

He gets specific in Matthew 25:35-36:

· You gave food to the hungry,
· You gave drink to the thirsty,
· You invited a stranger into your home,
· You gave clothes to the naked,
· You cared for the sick,
· You visited the prisoners,

And this isn’t an exhaustive list on the ways to offer practical help. Jesus constantly provides us with down-to-earth examples meant to get us started.

What now?

· Love language – Make a list of people you love and pray through it, asking God to show you what you can do that will speak love to each person.

· Take initiative – When someone is in crisis, we genuinely want to help, and we’ll say, “If there’s anything I can do, please, just let me know.” Start changing that to express a concrete form of love: “I’m going to do this for you.” Maybe you offer to bring over a meal or watch the children. Perhaps you offer to cut the grass. Maybe you bring a roll of quarters to the hospital so the family can grab snacks and drinks from the vending machine. Be creative – and let the Holy Spirit guide.

· Fake it ‘til you make it – C.S. Lewis said, if you don’t love someone, then act like you do. Eventually the feelings will catch up with your actions.

· Pray – Be still and ask God to show you someone you know who is in need, and ask him how you should help your friend. Seek God about the timing of your help. Ask him to use your act of service to make his presence known to your friend.

Reach out and make a difference today!

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Lessons from my youngest sons football team

Another busy Saturday! The whole family were all up this morning just after 6.00am. My wife getting ready for a ladies breakfast at the church, my eldest son getting ready to go off for the day with friends playing paintball (He was so excited and was as high as a kite) and my youngest son had to to be ready for a football match and I was to be his greatest fan.

What a morning! I rushed around making tea and breakfast and there was such a buzz, were all rushing around: fighting for the shower, getting drinks, looking for clothes and kit, packing snacks, finding weather proofs, sorting out money, packing the cars, feeding the pets etc.. It was like all seasons at once! And we needed to be out of the house at the latest 7.30am Aaargh!!!!

After seeing my wife off and had dropped my hypo eldest son off at the other end of the city, I set off back to the south of the city with my youngest son to his football match. On arrival we parked up and walked through mud and wet grass over to one of the pitches where his team was meeting. It was pretty cold so I was wrapped up in several layers of clothing, had my umberella ready if required and was soon standing there calm and content suping a hot coffee. The game started looked like it was going to be a great match. I have to say, I was so proud of the way he played throughout the game. He played in mid field position and he worked really hard and seemed to dominate the play. He set up all the goals his team scored and seemed to be all over the pitch. Well, I nearly lost my voice screaming for him and my coffee was all over me! The coach was well pleased with his performance and it was no suprise to me that he won man of the match. I was one happy dad!

His team were excellent and they won 5 - 1. They beat a team who was in the top league above theirs. Can you imagine how they all felt. They were ready to take on the world! It struck me again, that can be achieved when a team plays as a team and not as a group of individuals. His team worked hard, they all wanted to win, they talked to one another constantly, they support one another. they listen and respond to instruction from the coach, they stayed positive and encourage each other throughout. Man, don't you wish we could get it together in church like that? Maybe we would achieve a whole lot more together and the buzz is a feeling second to none.

Well the day continues with a host of jobs to do, so I must keep on pressing on...

I am looking forward to church tomorrow as we start our new three week series for our Time2Build focus. Growth calls us forward and excites me. We want to see many people find Christ in a meaningful way in our city and join a great team.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Growth means expansion

Some thoughts......... Growth means expansion for all of us.

Even in the natural. I was at the gym today and whilst riding peacefully on a cycling machine, a huge guy climbed onto the bike next to me. The bike nearly disapeared! I thought this guy obviously loves his food and has expanded way futher than he probably ever thought he would! To my shame I was laughing on the inside as I watched him peddaling along, sad I know. As I continued peddaling a thought came into my mind; God wants you to experience expansion in your life like never before. It was as if God was saying, you have no idea what I can do in your life if you completely submit to me. I honestly believe there is a greater capacity in all of us than where we are at the moment. We all need to experience God's expansion in our lives. God wants to do so much more than we could ever ask or think! Come on now don't you dare settle for a small life. Let God enlarge you!

I want to encourage everyone I meet to have a vision for your life to get bigger and better in every area. Bigger and better in your work, bigger and better in your business,bigger and better in your ministry, bigger and better as a husband or wife, bigger and better as a parent, just a bigger and better person. To be Bigger and better you have to be comitted to expansion in your life. I challenge you to do whatever it takes to keep the growing going in your life and see it as a priority. Remember this, no one will be more passionate about your personal growth and development more than you!

Be intentional about your growth. It is so important to keep learning and listening because that is where our epxansion begins. Reading books, reading blogs, listening to pod casts, debating with good friends, asking someone to mentor you, attend to a leadership conference... We must understand we need to keep learning and growing for the rest of your life.

Get serious with God today! Say, God enlage my in every way, I am hungry for you and I want to serve you.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

A work in progress..

I enjoyed a brilliant weekend with my friend Andrew Shearman who was our guest speaker at MKCC on Sunday 23 Sept 07. His ministry was exceptional as always! There were several challenging points he made but one stuck in my mind that I knew I needed to think more about it. The point? God will always challenge hypocrisy.

I am learning to write down key things that I hear and then seek to work them through in my quiet times before God. I realise that God is the builder of my life and I want to listen and make any changes necessary. We are all a work in progress!

Regularly measure the integrity of your life. Does what you believe and how you act match up? Is your life littered with unfulfilled commitments? Do you really practice what you preach? Never forget your life is on show to your world and we are broadcasting 24/7.

Jesus always challenged hypocrisy in his day. He could see past the surface of a persons life and see right into the heart. He sees all our play acting, insincerity and all our motives. To the Pharasees he said, you think you are okay because you look the part on the outside but on the inside, in your heart where it really matters, you have missed it by a mile and you are way off target. You impress others with your religious performance but not me! WOW! What about you?

I don't know about you I want to walk closely with God and I want him to use me as he wills. I desire my life to reflect everything I believe and the God whom I serve. What about you? Are you courageous enough to open up your life to God and respond to the challenges he brings?

Thursday, 20 September 2007

No room for hypocrites in the house

How easy it is to spot faults in others but fail to see your own. Ever given advice but fail to take it yourself. Ever told someone they are out of control when you lose control yourself. Ever told someone they needed to forgive but you needed to forgive?

Jesus said,'remove the speck out of your own eye before you try and take the beam out of someone else's.' Here he exposes the behaviour of hypocrites and challanges them to change their ways. I dislike the thought of ever being labeled a hypocrite by anyone let alone God. What about you?

I remember discovering this verse as a teenager and thinking, before I give out any advice to others, I need to make sure I am living it myself. I have always held to that value in my life to this day.

In my opinion, we need to take stock of our lives on a regular basis and identify the areas we know we need to work on.

I refuse to live a superficial Christian life. I want to be known as a genuine Christ follower.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Where did the day go?

I took Wednesday off this week and planned to have a relaxing day just by myself.

Ever planned to do something like that but it never worked out quite the way you planned? This was my day!

Firstly, I waved good bye to my wife and youngest boy as they were off to work and school. My other son happened to be unwell so was off school for the day and so I became a nurse, cook and waiter for the day and it seemed he needed something every 5 minutes. My wife asked me to: ensure the washing was hung on the line to dry, I water all our plants in the green house, I call the school and talk to them and finally put all the garbage out ready for collection. No problem, jobs sorted. After that I would wash my car thoroughly. As I walked into our garage I couldn't believe the mess I saw. Infact, it looked like a stray missle from Iraq had landed right in the middle of it. Bikes, scooters, skatboards, ramps, balls and various toys etc were everywhere. My toolbox was open and tools were scattered across the dusty floor which needed to be swept. So I set about cleaning it all up whilst rehearsing my grand speach to the family around the dinner table that night. When I had finished these tasks, I made myself a nice coffee and sat down. I looked at the clock and couldn't believe where the time had gone, it was almost mid day!

I thought I would check my email quickly while I had a minute to spare. Do the words email and quickly live on the same planet or is that just me! As I opened my inbox, it was like every one I knew had decided to get together and send me mail and demanded an immediate response. I shouted out load....'hold on this is my day off leave me alone!' At that very moment the phone rang, I answered and it was someone in our services on sunday at MKCC looking for some information on Life groups. I had a chat and helped as much as I could and said goodbye. As soon as I put the phone down, it rang again! This time it was an offer of a lifetime, a company offering me a free holiday in a top hotel in Tenerife including flights with no strings attatched. I said no thanks about six times but the girl just wasn't listening, so I put the phone down! It rang and rang that afternoon and annoyed me immensley like a hungy mosquito looking for it's next victim.

I spent time responded to numerous emails, made another coffee, lost about 1/2 stone running up and down the stairs taking care of my boy, vacumed round the house. I looked at the time again and my day has almost Gone. My wife and youngest son will be home soon, Where did my day go?

Does this sound vaguely familiar to anyone? To find time for yourself just to relax and switch off is difficult now a days but it is essential for us to do as human beings. We need to make time to relax, reflect and to refuel for our own emotional well being and happiness. Get away from the house, leave behind the computer, your mobile and give yourself back some time. Learn to be still in your life. I believe there is a power in stillness where God affirms his presence and power and where we understand and experience God bringing security, peace and strngth to us. 'Be still and know that I am God.'

If you can't think of anything else creative to do, just go for a walk! That's what I intend to do later.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Letting go is never easy..

As a parent, isn't it difficult to know how gradually you should let out the reigns of control in your children's lives as they grow up and mature.

My eldest boy is soon to become a teenager! He is maturing quickly and already he is desiring to chart his own course in many ways. Our relationship is changing and is moving to a whole new level and we must make changes in the way we live in our house. As parents we are committed to support and help him become the unique young man that God has created him to be.

On Tueday night I agreed to go with him for a bike ride to find the best route from our house to his school. He was now wanting to start to ride to school by himself and not travel with me in the car. This was a big step for me, he wanted to go his own way!

As we were riding along, I could hear myself going on and on and on, giving him advice like what to avoid, what to look out for, how to mount a curb correctly and even a few lessons on how to ride his bike properly. How sad is that! He just looked graciously back at me and said, 'yes dad, thanks dad it's okay.. I'll be fine'.

We found a good route that he was very confident with and it would take approximately 15 minutes home to school.

Peddling side by side on the way home was a journey I will remember for a long time. I realised that my boy was confident, sensible and ready to do this all by himself. All I needed to do was to trust him and let him do it. However,
in the back of my mind I couldn't help thinking, what if he isn't okay or what if something happens? Ever been there with your kids? I am sure you have.

I thought to myself, I am not able to protect him from everything in life but I do know that God is able to look after him because he belongs to him. Right there and then on that dark redway as we were riding home, I gave all my concerns to God who says, 'cast all your cares on me because I care for you'. Immediately I felt God's peace hit my heart and mind. We arrived home safetly, prepared everything ready for the morning and he went of to bed excited.

The next morning I was at peace and I was almost as excited as he was. After breakfast, I opened the garage door for him and out he came on his bike with a huge smile on his face. My wife and younger son were hanging out of the window cheering and clapping him as started off down the road. I was so thrilled to see him ride off waving happily back to me, as if to say, it's okay dad I'm ready for this, I'll be fine and I will remember all your good advice.

When he got home from school that evening he called me at the office just to let me know he had made it and he was fine. How cool is that.

I am a dad who is learning to gradually let go.

Every day I entrust my children's lives into God's hands who I know is their provider and protector.