Friday, 28 November 2008

Has love got a hold of you?

I Corinthians 13:3-7 (The Message)

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self.

Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut.

Doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others.

Isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle.

Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel.

Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything.

Trusts God always, always looks for the best.

Never looks back, but keeps going to the end.

There is so much I need to hear, understand, learn and apply, from this passage. The phrase that stands out to me the most right now is “Love never gives up”.

Which portion of this scripture speaks to you today?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

A short thought about influence..

I read toady that Sociologists tell us that 'even the most introverted individual will influence ten thousand other people during their life time.'

FLIP! If that is true, we all need to realise that our daily lives are more significant than we think. I sat back in my chair and thought about this and felt incredibly challenged. It made me think about what kind of influence I had been in the the lives of the people I was privileged to spend time with today. Not always easy evaluating yourself and being honest is it? But I think it is necessary for your growth, especially as a leader. Never forget, the worse person to deceive in life is yourself! People are God's treasure and we need to learn to value them in the same way.

I really want to influence people for good and for God as I see it as a worth while anthem to commit to for life. Image your influence being multiplied through all the lives of the people you meet; it's remarkable and very powerful. Your influence can be for good or bad, so make sure you get it right! Realising the power you possess to influence others is your responsibility.

I challenge you to think about this and be more diligent and thoughtful about the way you live your life.

Monday, 24 November 2008

We can learn a great deal from Solomon's costly mistakes. The king of Israel fervently pursued several unrelated goals in a vain attempt to satisfy himself. Ecclesiastes 2:10-11. Solomon had reached a high level of success - but he still felt empty.

We need to stay focused on what really matters to us and what really counts. What about you? A good checklist for making decisions I read recently was from John Maxwell. Here they are:

1. Is this consistent with your priorities?
2. Is this withing the area of my competence?
3. Can someone else do it better?
4. What do my trusted friends say?
5. Do I have the time?

This is good advice that I want to seek to implement in my own life and encourage you to consider doing the same.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Keep learning...keep growing!

I went to support my youngest son Mitchell and his football team today, they were playing a cup match. Boy was it cold. I was glad I took a big flask of coffee with me! His team are doing really well at the moment and are winning all their matches. It took the first 15 minutes to settle into the game and then it suddenly clicked and they started to play as a team and the goals came quickly.

Their coach is an inspiration to me and I admire his leadership, his passion for the game, his commitment and care for the boys, his desire to draw out the best in each one of them, his constant encouragement, his ability to motivate, his commitment to discipline and his constant instruction... All this pays off! The boys respect him and so do all the parents. Today I thought, if this guy was a Pastor of a church I would want to be on his team. There is so much we can learn from the people around us.

By the way we won 7 - 0. Mitchell got man of the match and I was one happy chappy!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Leadership ....

I read this article by Rick Warren today and thought it was excellent. Rick produces some excellent materials but most of all I know he is a man who lives what he preaches and lives to bring glory to God alone. He is a leader who has my attention!

Six essential commitments for leadership

Leaders are always defined by self-imposed standards. I’m not talking about standards set by other people, but standards they set for themselves. Great leaders always expect more from themselves than they do from their followers. They put forth more effort as well. That’s leadership.

If you were to look through the New Testament for the phrase “make every effort,” you’d find it six times. They represent six important vows we need to make as leaders. I believe these six vows will lead to an effective and productive ministry.

  1. Vow to maintain integrity.
  2. “Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14).

    God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. No one is perfect. To be spotless and blameless means to live with integrity. How do you maintain integrity if you’re not perfect? You need to be transparent. A person of integrity is not claiming to have it all together in every area. On the contrary, the person of integrity is willing to be open about their strengths and weaknesses.

    Having integrity also means living what you say you believe. You model what you teach. And you tell the truth, even when it’s tough. All leadership is built on trust. And trust comes from having the reputation for living out what you believe and for telling the truth. As a pastor and leader, people must trust you.

    Will you make a commitment to lead with integrity? Will you be honest about both your strengths and weaknesses? Will you commit to living your sermons out every week? Will you tell the truth to those you lead even when it’s tough?

  3. Vow to forgive those who hurt you.

    “Make every effort to live in peace with all men. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up” (Hebrews 12:14-15).
  4. Leaders forgive those who hurt them. You will be hurt in ministry. It’s going to happen. It’s a given. You will be hurt both intentionally and unintentionally. You will be hurt by those who recognize what they’re doing and those who don’t. You cannot be in ministry without being hurt. If you call the shots, you’re going to take the shots.

    But you’ve got to be willing to forgive those who try to take you down. If you allow bitterness to build, it will choke your heart for God and your love for people until your heart just shrivels.

    Will you forgive when every bone in your body wants to retaliate?

  5. Vow to relax and trust God.

    “Anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter into God’s rest” (Hebrews 4:11).
  6. If you’re going to be in ministry, you’ve got to learn to relax. You need to be concerned about the people around you, but at the same time, you’re not God. You can’t bear everybody’s burden all the time.

    How do you release those burdens? First, you’ve got to pray. Ultimately, God is the one responsible for your flock. He’s the one responsible for the growth of your ministry. Share your burdens with him in prayer.

    Then you need to spend some time in God’s Word meditating on his promises. Remember what God has done in the past – in God’s Word and in your own life. God has a good track record of taking care of us. Remember that when you’re tempted to let the stress of your ministry position overwhelm you.

    Will you commit to surrendering your stress to God?

  7. Vow to be an encourager.

    “Let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification” (Romans 14:19).
  8. As a Christian leader, you should build people up rather than tear them down. God has called you to be an encourager, not a discourager. Take the time to look beyond the problems and look at the potential of those you lead. People get discouraged in life; you need to be a source of encouragement.

    As pastors, you are dispensers of hope. That’s what it means to be a Christian leader. You bring the hope of Jesus into a hopeless situation. You help people who seem to be helpless. You let them know they can do it.

    Will you be a voice of encouragement in your community, in your church, in your home?

  9. Vow to be a peacemaker.

    “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
  10. Leaders are called to make every effort to reduce conflict. Our society is filled with conflict. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” How do you make peace in such a fragmented society?

    You’ve got to deal with different points of view. Not everybody is like you in your church. And that’s good. Everyone has something to contribute. The perspective of those who see the world differently can add something indispensible to your ministry.

    At Saddleback we value unity not uniformity. You can walk hand-in-hand without seeing eye-to-eye on every issue. God can overlook lack of programs in your church. He can overlook a lack of ability. But God will not bless a divided church. That means one of your most important jobs is to promote unity. Ten times in the first five chapters of Acts, the Bible says the church was unified. When you have the unity of Acts, you will have the power of Acts.

    Will you have the courage to unify your church when it is being pulled in many different directions?

  11. Vow to never stop growing.
  12. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive…” (2 Peter 1: 5-8).

    Learning is the lifestyle of leadership. The moment you think you know it all, you’re dead in the water. You must never stop growing. Growing ministries require growing leadership. You’ve got to train yourself continually.

    Keep reading. Get a mentor. Solicit feedback. Ask questions. Always look for ways to keep growing in your character and your skills. The very nature of leadership is tied to growth. You’ve got to grow if you are going to lead others to grow.

    Take a regular look at yourself. Where do you need to grow? What do you need to learn? What’s the best way to get the training you need? Make a learning plan every year. Your future leadership depends upon it.

    Will you commit to keep growing as a leader and as a person?

Monday, 17 November 2008

In trouble? Turn to God...

I Just love the band U2, their songs are full of energy, emotion and inspiring lyrics. The song for me this week that I listened to and has continued to go around and around in my head is Ps 40:1-2. This verse is amazing and is a reminder that God is able to reverse any situation in our lives in his time. David found himself sinking in a dark and desperate situation yet he chose to trust in God and his ways at this time. He learned to wait patiently and submit himself completely to God.

King David knew about suffering, particular suffering caused by his own actions. However, he knew who to run to during times of trouble. What great joy and comfort come to us when we understand that God is rich in grace and mercy. God not only forgives, but restores and redeems! God is able to step in to the deepest pit of despair we face and lift us and set us in a right standing with him and put us back on track.

When times of trouble arrive in your life, turn to God and wait patiently for his help knowing that he will never fail to bring you through.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Keeping close to God

'Draw near to God and He will draw near to you' James 4:8

I love this verse! What an invitation from the almighty.

Close to God is where we all need to be. Infact, where we belong! This is the posture of our heart and is about a relationship with God. I have always longed for intimacy with God and desired to know him better. Think about how close you are to God right now. Do you desire to be closer? Then take a walk and talk with him today. Pour out your heart to him and tell him you want to walk closely with him for the rest of your days. Tell him how much you love him and want to serve him. Open the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to give you a fresh understanding of his word. I could go on here but be serious about your relationship with God.

Moses once cried out, Exodus 33:10 “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. WOW! This is a guy who knew above all else that he needed God in EVERY MOMENT of his life as he journeyed forward. Moses was desperate for God and drew near to him and as a result God certainly drew near to him. Moses set up a tent, a special meeting place called 'the tent of meeting where Moses met with God. All the people knew this and I believe God was using this as a strong visual aid to the Israelites and to us also today that teaches us the importance of having a regular meeting place where we seek God. Joshua, his attendant and future leader learned many things from Moses, but none more greater than the need to draw close to God.

I once heard someone say, 'God's presence is the spiritual oxygen we must breathe and know that we cannot survive without him'. Do whatever you need to do today to draw near to God.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

God's is awesome!

God got my attention this morning.

Astronomers Select Top Most Amazing Pictures Taken by Hubble Space Telescope in Last 16 Years "...they illustrate that our universe is not only deeply strange, but also almost impossibly beautiful." Michael Hanlon/AH (Nov 25th, 2006

TheSombreroGalaxy - 28 million light years from Earth - was voted best picture takenby the Hubble telescope. The dimensions of the galaxy, officially called M104, are as spectacular as its appearance. It has 800 billion suns and is 50,000 light years across.

The Ant Nebula, a cloud of dust and gas whose technical name is Mz3, resembles an ant when observed using ground-based telescopes... The nebula lies within our galaxy between 3,000 and 6,000 light years from Earth.

Nebula NGC 2392, called "Eskimo" because it looks like a face surrounded by a furry hood. The hood is, in fact, a ring of comet-shaped objects flying away from a dying star. Eskimo is 5,000 light years from Earth

The Cat's Eye Nebula.

God is truly awesome and his power knows no limits. Even the heavens declare his glory!

Monday, 10 November 2008

Take refuge!

Read Ps 91:1-2 'He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him will I trust'

I have to say these verses are two of the most comforting verses in the Bible. It describes the security that believers can have as they put their faith in God. He is strong when we are weak!

God promises his presence - we are not alone EVER. God promises his protection. God promises his peace God promises us his perspective and a new confidence. God promises us his strength. We all must make a decision today to live close to God to tackle the day ahead.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

It is well with my Soul...

I love this guy! Listen to this song and know that God is with you whatever you have to go through today. Be at peace and trust in God!

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Remarkable testimony

God alone changes lives and when he does it is powerful!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Family time is precious

Just had a few days with my family in the Peak District. We stayed at my parents house which is always a pleasure and we get really looked after. Over the years I have appreciated my parents more and more and know how blessed I am to have such wonderful folks.

I went fishing with my eldest Son Wesley for around 4 hours at Rudyard lake which was cold early in the morning but when the sun came up it was awesome. The scenery is beautiful there and it was so quiet! It was brilliant just to sit and chat with my dad about life; something I wished we had done more often when I was growing up and living at home.

Alison and I enjoyed several hours alone talking and drinking coffee in Buxton at the old pavilion overlooking the park. Buxton is a fabulous town in the Peak District and well worth a visit.

As we sat there talking I thought I really enjoy my life with Alison. I value, honour and appreciate her so very much and know that without her I could not do what I do. AND YES, I would marry her and have our life over again if I had the choice!

My mum cooked some LARGE northern dishes for us during our stay, and I mean large!! I could hardly walk away from the table after dinner. However, my favourite food at there house has to be the Bacon and Cheese sandwiches with an Oat Cake we have for breakfast - LOVELY.

We walked down to Leek town centre, visited shops, the old Market, the library, school and college I attended. You can imagine the stories I told of my childhood and youth! We walked through Brough Park which used to be my old stomping ground and the memories started to flow back into my mind from Childhood - Just Brilliant!

We had time to rest, relax with friends and family and regained strength to continue the great challenge before us in Milton keynes.

Thanks to mum and dad, you are precious and I have to say, that there will never be a place quite like home!