Thursday, 24 November 2011

Bulgaria missions trip

I had a challenging time in Bulgaria last week.

I went to serve the vision of an ex-IBTI student who has planted 2 churches already in 7 years and has also established a Bible training School programme. He has handed the churches over to a local pastor who he works with and who is a part of the Bible School programme. His vision is to plant 50 churches! The next church plant starts today with 4 students from his Bible School leading the plant.

On Thursday I spoke at a pastors conference which was the first time interdenominational leaders had come together in that area. Over 100 people came in and the Lord was powerfully present and the message I preached was timely and received well. I met some interesting people with amazing testimonies of God's power and provision at work in their life. That night we also walked around the town praying over vacant land that could be available for church planting.

On Friday and Saturday I lectured in the Bible School which is a very basic facility. I lectured on Friday 5pm until 11.45pm and then on Saturday from 8.00am until 1pm. Mladen's desire is to use this facility to train leaders and plant churches. All students are involved in planting churches.

On Sunday, I preached in three churches and travelled 500km. Our journey commenced at 6am on Sunday morning and finished at 2am on Monday morning. On arrival at the first church, there were over 200 people who had showed up including pastors from other churches. We left quickly after the service and drove 1 1/2 hours to a Gypsy church in the Ghetto (very poor) of around 50 people. I preached, prayed for the sick and also the pastor. On leaving that place, some of the people were brought items of clothing and handkerchiefs of sick people. We left and drove a further 1 1/2hr to another church of 200 people and I preached again. Over 90 people came out for prayer and it was amazing!! We anointed them all with oil and prayed for them. 2 people were healed and the place went nuts!! There were several recommitments and others committing themselves to ministry. A highlight for me was I felt God led me to embrace and hold a couple of Gypsy people in my arms as I prayed and I just wept as I felt God's love flowing out of me to them. The pastors were shocked at me embracing Gypsy people and said that they had never seen a pastor do this. I believe this was a prophetic picture of the heart of God for the pastors and churches to embrace the people and demonstrate the love of God and no longer just preach it, they must live it out and be the vessel!!

I spent Monday morning with the local pastor who has has started a mobile training ministry working with local gypsy pastors. He has a good sized building and has previously ran a Bible School their having up to 20 students living there for 3 months. The Pastor is a converted Communist and has an amazing testimony. At one point in his life, a-bomb was planted in his car by the local Mafia to kill his family because of a feeding programme he started. He developed through sponsorship a bakery and made bread daily and gave it away to the poor in his local community. The Mafia didn't like this as the sales of local business were affected (and no doubt their portion of profits) so they they put out several warnings and finally threatened the life of his family. He had to make the decision to take his family out of the area for three years, so they fled to Sofia.

On Monday evening we travelled 3 hrs to other friends of Mladen in Sofia where we stayed the night. I shared the gospel with them in a home, we prayed and broke bread together. I prayed with Mladen in the morning and read him the scriptures, prophesied over him.

There are many opportunities: Training leaders, evangelism teams, leadership development, practical projects, pastor conferences around Bulgaria, music teams, youth and Children's ministry. The people are hungry for God's word.

There are over 1.2 million Gypsies in Bulgaria alone, a massive harvest field.

Anyone who is interested in going contact me.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Are You Ready for an Eye-Opening, Gut-Wrenching Film?

This is a shocking video but needs to be watched by everyone but particularly MEN.

Click here to watch

Unearthing Sexual Exploitation

When Unearthed was formed, we had our hearts set on producing a documentary that would expose the mechanics of the global sex trade. For a solid year, we traveled, filmed, raided brothels, rescued victims, and had our hearts crushed by the magnitude of sexual brokenness that surrounded us. You can watch some of that work here.

When it came time to edit the film, we decided that the last thing the world needed was another depressing documentary that explained how badly sex trafficking sucked. So, we pulled the plug on it, we prayed, we waited, and we listened.
The Root of Trafficking

We all have responsibility to the victims of this injustice, and we're thrilled that 85% of the money that comes into our doors goes right back out to some of the best organizations in the world that rescue, rehabilitate, and reintegrate the women & children that live in this hell.

But who's going after the victimizers? Really...who's made it their ambition to kill this thing at the root? If we rescued every victim today, we'd wake up to a demand for 100+ million new slaves tomorrow. If a victim's care is the only weapon in this battle, it'll continue to do a cyclically miserable job of winning.

If we rescued every victim today, we'd wake up to a demand for 100+ million new slaves tomorrow.

We've got to go after the heart of the issue, and that is the hearts of men. Men perpetuate the demand in sex slavery. Men in our cities, backyards, and churches can fuel the global sex trade with their "private" sexual decisions, which often create massive global impact.

Take porn for example: a 97 billion dollar per year industry that's got almost 80% of men and 35% of women ensnared. Americans spend so much on porn each year that it breaks down to $50 per person, and we account for only 14% of the global porn share. While specific connections can be hard to trace, we know that porn profits directly fund the acquisition of new women and children being forced into sex slavery.
The Hearts of Men

Jacob's story in the video above isn't an isolated incident. Jesus is continually transforming abusers into protectors; addicts into free men and traffickers into rescuers. Over the next year, we're creating a film called The Hearts of Men. It's a raw, unfiltered examination of how sin distorts sex, who's affected, and how the Gospel changes all of it. We know that to win this war, we need to engage men and right now they aren't just asleep on the battlefield, they're fornicating on it. A generation of God's sons need to be reminded who they are in Christ: chosen, washed, sanctified, and justified.

Men, we're coming after you, in love, because we know that when the gospel changes you, everything changes.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Why the great commission is so GREAT

I am convinced that most of us Christians alive today need to capture again a freshness of the GREAT commission. (Matt 28: 18-20) Jesus' mission became the disciples mission and has been passed down through generations and now it has been passed into our hands. We will hold it for a short time and then will be required to pass it on to the next generation who will in turn have the responsibility to make disciples of all nations and pass it on with passion and urgency.

We sometimes think we are living in difficult times where it is hard for us to share the gospel. However, a quick study of history, the life and times of when Jesus commissioned his disciples to ought to leave us ashamed of the excuses we make. Infact, nearly all were killed in action, they gave everything they had. They got something that somehow, i feel is missing today!

Jesus commission to us is GREAT because it is:

1. It is GREAT in it's authority - Jesus said 'ALL authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him.' There is no authority greater than Jesus in heaven or on earth, so what's our problem? He authorizes us to go!!

2. It is GREAT in it's mission - Make disciples! how? By Baptising them and teaching them to obey EVERYTHING I have commanded you. We are called to be discipled and to disciple. There is nothing greater to Jesus.

3. It is GREAT in it's scope - 'ALL nations' All peoples and as followers of Christ we should learn to love EVERYONE as Jesus did for us. He is passionate for the nations! Salvation is for all people and we must think globally.

4. It is GREAT in it's Promise - Jesus is with us unto the very end of time. His authority, power and presence is ALWAYS available and is with us. Where ever we have been, are right now or will be he has promised to be with us. This ought to make a difference - what a great security and peace we should experience.

Every follower of Jesus is commissioned and sent out to bring people to Jesus. We are all missionaries, so let's get to it!!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Like a fire

What an amazing song and expresses the heart of a devoted follow who pursue the living Christ. I'm hooked forever!!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Great blog by Pastor Perry Noble

Seven Things I Believe About You If You Are In Christ! September 1, 2011

#1 – That God’s plans for your life are greater than yours…and success is not found in control but rather through surrender! (Ephesians 3:20!)

#2 – That if God brought you to it then He will lead you through it…He always finishes what He starts! (Philippians 1:6)

#3 – That there will be times in your life that you are going to have to leave your comfort zone and step into the unknown! (Hebrews 11:1, Hebrews 11:6)

#4 – That we cannot do life alone…and God places people in our lives to both encourage and challenge us! (Hebrews 10:24-25)

#5 – That God really does work out ALL THINGS for His glory and our good! (Romans 8:28)

#6 – That you cannot separate yourself from the love of God…He doesn’t love us based on our performance but rather our position as His children! (It is an overwhelming thought when we consider that we cannot out sin the grace of God!) (Romans 8:38-39)

#7 – That you CAN DO what you think you CAN’T DO but feel like He keeps telling you that you’ve GOT TO DO! (Philippians 4:13)

Friday, 2 September 2011

Friday, 26 August 2011

Spiritual Habits of Effective People: Quiet Time

I was challenged again today by Pastor Rick Warren's simple encouragement to ensure we spend some time in our EVERYDAY lives to focus on God and his direction for us.

Check it out!

“Show me the path where I should go, O Lord; point out the right road for me to walk” (Psalm 25:4 LB).

Getting time with God each day is one of the spiritual habits of effective people. We develop spiritual fitness by having a quiet time each day for Bible reading and prayer.

What’s the reason for that? To get direction from God: “Show me the path where I should go, O Lord; point out the right road for me to walk” (Psalm 25:4 LB).

Sometimes we can get so busy in life that we can forget the direction we’re going. Like the pilot in World War II flying over the Pacific, he radioed back, “I have absolutely no idea where I’m going. I’m lost. But I’m making record time.”

Many times we get very busy. We need to slow down and get direction from God. This means we spend time with God on a daily basis; we talk to God in prayer; we let him talk to us from his Word; and we listen for his direction.

I can honestly say that every major decision in my life has been made in a quiet time.

Jesus is our model; he “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16 NIV). You can’t get to know God if you’re always in a crowd. You get to know God in a one-on-one encounter.

Notice the Bible says Jesus withdrew often; his quiet time was his source of strength.

And Jesus teaches that we are strengthened as we develop a deep and intimate relationship with him: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7 NIV).

Sunday, 7 August 2011



Taken from the John Maxwell Bible

God, Esther, and Haman each play a leading role in the Book of Esther. God is the Leader in control; Esther is the leader under control; and Haman is the leader out of control. Consider each one.

GOD: The Leader in Control

1/. He took Queen Vashti off the throne.

2/. He gave Esther the throne.

3/. He used Mordecai to supply information,

4/. He put everyone in place before the crisis.

ESTHER: the Leader under Control

1/. Her position didn’t steal her compassion.

2/. She felt limited in what she could do.

3/. She knew her place in the organization.

4/. She felt the need to fast and pray.

5/. She depended on the prayers of others.

6/. She was willing to take a risk and obey.

7/. She didn’t take advantage of generosity.

8/. She recognised the importance of timing.

HAMAN: The team Leader out of Control

1/. He misunderstood the times.

2/. He lost joy over little problems.

3/. He needed friends to build his self-image.

4/. His greed and ambition made him unhappy.

5/. He listened to the wrong people.

6/. He thought too highly of himself.

7/. He set himself up for a fall.

8/. He reaped what he sowed.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

An Overnight Success

A great blog from Pastor Steven Furtick

Certain people are sometimes called overnight successes. Usually they’re people who seem to just spring onto the scene. One day you’ve never heard of them. The next day they’re everywhere.

Sometimes it’s a band. An athlete. Or a movie star. Some people would even call our church an overnight success.

I would agree with the term, with this one caveat:
If by overnight success you mean that night after night after night after night after night, they have become successful.

Do we really think U2’s second gig was Cowboy’s Stadium?
Do we really think Spielberg’s second movie was Jaws?
Do we really think a life is built overnight?
Or a church for that matter?

Yes, some people’s road to success – whatever ‘success’ even means – is shorter than others. But that doesn’t mean they took a shortcut. There are no shortcuts to success. Only hard work. Consistency. And above all, God’s favor.

If you want to be an overnight success, I really don’t know how to help you. The only thing that’s overnight about success is recognition. The rest is about showing up with your best.

Night after night after night after night after night after night…

Sunday, 31 July 2011

4 Stages of Leadership by Tony Morgan - Awesome!

Yesterday while I was at Christ Fellowship in Miami, I did a leadership talk for their staff team. At the end of my talk, we took some time for Q&A. One of the questions that was asked was about leadership growth. Having worked in churches of various sizes between 1,400 and over 10,000, they wanted to know how leaders change to grow with organizations. Here’s what I summarized with a little bit more detail. Some of this reflects my own experiences in the churches I’ve served. Some of it reflects the conversations with leaders in other churches.

Lead by example. This is the type of leadership that is required when a new ministry launches. During this season, the leader has to do most of the work themselves. That happens out of necessity because no one else is around. It also happens to establish a foundation for the future. “Leading by doing” gives the leader the opportunity to shape the mission, vision, values and strategy of the church. These folks may not necessarily be gifted as leaders but they are in a positional leadership role. They are the “leaders of tens.” Ministries with this style of leadership can grow to about 100 people.

Lead other people. During this season, the leader recruits other people to join the ministry team. Rather than doing all the work on their own, the leader begins to delegate tasks and responsibilities to other people. The leader still owns the responsibility for making things happen, they’re just including other people in the effort. These are the “leaders of fifties.” Ministries can grow to several hundred people with this style of leadership.

Lead other leaders. This is when a transition happens where leaders begin to empower other leaders. Instead of a hands-on role where they’re on top of all the tasks, they shift to a role where they’re really more concerned about leading, caring for and raising up other leaders. They don’t give up responsibility for the outcome, but they begin to release team building and decisions of execution to other people. These are the “leaders of hundreds.” Ministries can grow to several thousand people with this style of leadership.

Lead by vision. At some point, there are leaders who may continue to embrace functional leadership of specific areas of ministry, but their focus is really on the overall health of the church. Rather than a ministry-specific focus, they have a global perspective that encompasses every aspect of the organization. These folks are leading other leaders, but they also have influence that reaches beyond their direct reports. They are coming alongside the senior leader to champion the vision that God has given the church. These are the “leaders of thousands.” Ministries can grow to tens of thousands of people with this style of leadership.

First of all, do you agree with my summary of these different stages of leadership growth? What would you add or delete from my descriptions?

Secondly, where are you? Would would you need to do today to prepare for a step into a new leadership role tomorrow?

Friday, 15 July 2011

How to Read a Book for Transformation

I great article by Mac Lake.

For years I used to set a goal of reading 52 books between January 1 and December 31. And for several years I accomplished that goal. I still think that’s a good discipline for a young leader, but as I grew older something inside told me to slow down. I sensed I was at a stage where I needed to focus less on information and focus more on transformation. So I started reading fewer books. But that still wasn’t having the growth impact I was longing for.

It took a while but I finally developed a 6 Question System for reading that seemed to take me deeper into the content and impacted my thinking in a more tangible way. Today when I read a book I start by reading the table of contents and dividing it into sections. Sometimes a section is one chapter, sometimes it’s 2 or 3 chapters. But I define the specific chunks in the book I will apply these questions too. I find this more helpful than applying all six questions to every single chapter. As I read here are the six questions that force me to read that section on a deeper level. I hope you find this as helpful as I have.

  • What stood out to you the most? I don’t actually write the answer to this question. But I answer this by using a highlighter to mark every sentence that stood out to me. In a 10-page chapter this may be as many as 40-60 sentences that stood out as important or as key thoughts.
  • What challenged your thinking the most? Now that I’ve finished reading the chapter I go back and read my highlights and put a “C” by no more than three highlights. Next I write down in my journal (Evernote) the answer to what challenged me the most. Narrowing it down to just three things that challenged me and writing the answer to that question makes me process the content at a whole new depth.
  • What did you question or disagree with? It’s always tempting to skip over this question. Many times we don’t pause long enough to question the content of what we just read. So I look back over my highlights and put a “?” beside one or two things I questioned or disagreed with. Next I write in my journal what or why I disagreed. Or if I didn’t disagree with anything I write out what questions were raised in my mind. This forces me to look at the content from a different angle and process even deeper.
  • What 3-5 action steps will you take as a result of your reading? Next I write down what I’m going to do as a result of reading the content of the chapter or section. If you don’t put into practice the principles you learned those principles will never be translated into new behaviors. So force yourself to find a few action steps you will take. Remember there is no transformation without application.
  • What area did my reading reveal where I need to grow? Now to really get the subject material into your soul think though an area of Personal Growth the reading revealed for you. As I look back over my highlights I put a “-“ beside a section that reveals a needed growth area of my life. Then I write out where and how I need to grow in that area. So as you review your reading section ask yourself: Did it highlight a specific area of weakness that I need to work on? Did it reveal a poor attitude, an undeveloped skill, a bad habit, a relational roadblock that needs to be dealt with? If we really want to change we’ll take the time to identify those specific areas of growth potential in our own life.
  • What area of strength did this reading affirm about my leadership? Finally, I look for strengths that the chapter affirmed in my life or leadership. As I read back over the highlights I put a “+” beside the section that revealed what I am good at. We become better leaders when we focus on developing our strengths. So make sure you allow the content you’re reading to affirm the positive aspects of your leadership.

So grab a good book that you think will challenge you to grow as a leader. Buy a journal or open up your Evernote. And don’t forget, this method of reading requires greater patience but results in bigger payoff. Hey, give it a try and let me know what you think.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

I believe in God but I won't forgive

How can we love someone who has caused us so much grief? How can we move past the offense to forgive them and love them? Full of questions and with anger (even hatred) in our heart, bitterness takes hold. Craig Groeschel on page 115 of “The Christian Atheist” shares the following:

“The root of bitterness grows in the soil of hurt that has not been dealt with properly. Unknown to me, a root of bitterness started to grow in my heart. Roots absorb and store, and my heart absorbed and stored hurt, anger, hatred, and thoughts of revenge. Love keeps no wrong, but bitterness keeps detailed accounts. [Emphasis mine]

God’s command for us to love others sincerely just as we love ourselves does not allow room for bitterness and hatred. In love, we are to forgive one another and lift each other up so that we may experience the grace of God:

15See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Heb 12:15

Bitterness defiles. Forgiveness liberates and elevates.

Craig Groeschel in chapter 6 shares his battle with unforgiveness and bitterness towards the man who molested his sister and others. There was a lot of anger. There was enmity and hatred. Craig shares the “reluctant” path he traveled to forgiveness:

  1. Recognition – He recognized and was convicted by the Holy Spirit of the destructive force of bitterness in his life.
  2. Prayer – “God, I pray you work in his [the molester's] life.”
  3. Forgiveness – Colossians 3:13 “forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Forgiveness is not easy. But it is needed. Unforgiveness can destroy us and those around us. Bitterness can grow and defile many.

Who do you need to forgive today? Are you being defiled by a root of bitterness?

On page 122, Craig Groeschel concludes this chapter with the following paragraph:

“We Christian Atheists can rationalize as many excuses as we need to avoid forgiving. We Christians, however, can find in God the sheer strength to battle through the feelings of anger, hatred, and bitterness, and fight our way back to the cross. That’s where Christ forgave us. And that’s where, by faith, we can find the ability to forgive those who’ve wronged us.”

My prayer today is for each one of us to be convicted of any unforgiveness we are holding on to. May God help us to turn our hatred into love, our bitterness into forgiveness…that no one should miss the grace of God.

Forgiven people forgive!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Quit complaining!!

Tae-ho is a strong willed and determined little boy from South Korea with a permanent smile on his face. Born with 8 severe birth defects, Tae-Ho doesn’t let his disability interfere with living life to the fullest. His story will warm your heart. CLICK HERE

Thursday, 2 June 2011

The bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance the team.

A great article about team....

According to prevailing wisdom, the best businesses create a culture that attracts influencers and develops leaders throughout the organization. Yet, if having an abundance of leaders is such a great thing, what accounts for the enduring popularity of maxims warning against having too many leaders?
“Too many chiefs and not enough Indians.”
“Too many cooks spoil the broth.”
Does bringing together a large number of leaders eventually backfire?

Dream Team or Nightmare?
On July 8th, LeBron James announced his decision to play basketball with the Miami Heat, joining fellow All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The sports world buzzed with the news, and pundits predicted that the trio would dominate the NBA. Before they ever stepped on a court together, many anointed the supergroup as the greatest team of all-time.
However, the alliance of James, Wade, and Bosh got off to a rocky start. The Heat dropped their season opener to the Boston Celtics on their way to losing eight of their first seventeen games. Later, they suffered the embarrassment of losing to LeBron James’ former team, and one of the worst squads in the league, the Cleveland Cavaliers. As defeats mounted, so did criticism of the team and its players. Analysts labeled the Heat as a collection of whiners and disparaged their uneven performance.

Learning to Serve
Legendary basketball coach John Wooden once referred to the selfishness of players as the greatest challenge facing a coach. In his observation, most players were more concerned with making themselves better than with improving the team. As a result, he discovered that combining the best players seldom resulted in the best team. When crafting a championship lineup, he looked for unselfish players who “showed an eagerness to lose themselves to the group for the goal of the team.”
The Miami Heat nearly succumbed to the selfishness of its superstars, each of whom had been the undisputed leader of his team prior to joining together. The problem for the Heat has not been having too much leadership, but having three players accustomed to excelling at the same role. James, Wade, and Bosh were each the primary scorers on their respective clubs last year. It has taken the trio time, and concerted effort, to learn how best to contribute their considerable talents as a team.

To their credit James, Bosh, and Wade have not sniped at one another following the team’s setbacks, and they have dedicated themselves to unselfishly serving and supporting one another. Instead of competing for the same role, they are learning how to complete one another. Bosh has adjusted to being a rebounder and secondary scoring option, and Wade now generally defers to James on the offensive end of the floor during crunch time of key games. The players’ commitment to winning as a team, as opposed to excelling individually, has reaped dividends. Presently, the Heat are on the cusp of winning the NBA championship and fulfilling the lofty expectations placed on them before the season started.

As the Heat have discovered during the course of their first season together, the bottom line in leadership isn’t how far we advance ourselves but how far we advance the team. Subtracting from others is unintentional. Adding to others takes intentional focus.

This month, consider where you can make adjustments to your performance to better serve the team mates beside you.

Monday, 23 May 2011

20 resolutions from the book of James for how to control our tongue.

1. I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to him. (1:5)
2. I resolve to boast only in the exultation I receive in Jesus Christ and also in the humiliation I receive for Jesus Christ. (1:9-10)
3. I resolve to set a watch over my mouth. (1:13)
4. I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak. (1:19)
5. I resolve to learn the gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor. (2:1-4)
6. I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment. (2:12)
7. I resolve never to stand on anyone’s face with the words I employ. (2:16)
8. I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I do not truly experience. (3:14)
9. I resolve to resist quarrelsome words as evidence of a bad heart that needs to be mortified. (4:1)
10. I resolve never to speak decided evil against another out of a heart of antagonism. (4:11)
11. I resolve never to boast in anything but what I will accomplish. (4:13)
12. I resolve to speak as one subject to the providences of God. (4:15)
13. I resolve never to grumble. The judge is at the door. (5:9)
14. I resolve never to allow anything but total integrity in everything I say. (5:12)
15. I resolve to speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer. (5:13)
16. I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I’m cheerful. (5:14)
17. I resolve to ask for the prayers of others when I’m in need. (5:14)
18. I resolve to confess it whenever I have failed. (5:15)
19. I resolve to pray with others for one another whenever I am together with them. (5:15)
20. I resolve to speak words of restoration when I see another wander. (5:19)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Leading in Times of Transition

Leading in Times of Transition

1. Accept discomfort as normal. Phil 4v10-13.
Remember: the alternative to transition is stagnation

2. Hold fast to the Greater vision.
We are a Christian Community that serves.

3. Remember you are a Vision Carrier and a Change Agent

A vision carrier…

(a) Knows about the church’s important initiatives
(b) Casts vision within their sphere of influence
(c) Answers people’s questions
(d) Communicates confidence in the leader of the church
(c) Puts out fires

4. Don’t allow critics to taint your perspective

5. Expect progress to require both the move of the spirit and hard work!

6. Don’t let a success derail you.

7. When you have momentum, keep it going

8. Be ready and willing to re-invent your systems and approaches

9. Remain fast and fluid

10. Keep finding and raising up new leaders

Monday, 4 April 2011

Get into God's word if you want to grow spiritually

As a pastor,I long to see my congregation dig into all of the treasures in God’s Word. You know that within the pages of the Bible they will find everything it needs to grow spiritually. But how can I help them get more from the Bible?

In his book Bible Study Methods, Rick Warren shares 12 different ways to study the Bible. In each chapter he tells you why that particular method is important and gives you step-by-step instructions on how to do it. He also includes a helpful Bible study form to use in applying each method.

Here are the 12 methods Warren uses:

The devotional method: Warren says this method sets the foundation for all of the others included in the book. If application is the ultimate goal of how we’re to interact with the Bible, then this method may be the most important for our spiritual lives. The method involves taking a passage of Scripture and prayerfully meditating on it until the Holy Spirit provides a concrete application.

The chapter summary method: This may be the easiest of the Bible study methods to use, and you need very few extra biblical resources to do it effectively. Using this method, you’ll get a general overview of a chapter. You can use the method to systematically go through God’s Word or you can pick various chapters that are of interest to you.

The character quality method: We’ve all got areas of our lives that need work. Using this Bible study method, you can work on positive character qualities that you need to improve on (such as honesty, humility, and diligence) and negative ones you need to avoid (such as pride and greed). Unless you really understand a character quality, you’ll never be able to develop it in your life. Through this method you’ll focus on one character quality, look at how biblical characters lived it out, and look for ways to build the character trait into your own life (or avoid it).

The thematic method: This study method involves taking a biblical theme (like interceding for others or “the hand of the Lord”) and asking no more than five pre-determined questions of the relevant biblical texts. This is another Bible study method that requires few reference tools, with a Bible and a concordance being the most important ones. It’s a great method to use when you’re preparing a Bible study or mentoring someone. It’s also a nice first step before digging into a more thorough topical study.

The biographical method: This study method is pretty self-explanatory. It involves picking a biblical character and studying his or her life as presented by Scripture. But it isn’t just about storing information on the person. The reason you study a biblical character is to see why the person was a spiritual success or failure. Once you discover that, you can either emulate what made them spiritually successful or avoid what made them fail. With more than 3,000 biblical characters, this form of Bible study offers an almost endless supply of opportunities.

The topical method: In many ways this method is like the thematic study, only more extensive. When studying the Bible topically, you typically attack a broad subject in Scripture (or in a specific book of the Bible) – like prayer or sin. Also, unlike a thematic study, you ask every question you can muster. What you get at the end is a broad idea of what the Bible (or a book in the Bible) says about the topic.

The word study method: Warren reminds readers that many of the great doctrines of Scripture revolve around a single word, such as grace, atonement, or faith. This study method allows you to focus on what some of these words mean in the original language. It’s one of the most reference-book-intensive studies of all the options, because you’ll need sources to be able to uncover the meaning of the biblical words in the original languages. The method is based on two things. First, the meaning you find from a word must be based on the original languages. Second, context must give you the ultimate meaning of the word you’re studying, not the English translation.

The book background method: This method helps you get a good feel for the background of the biblical passage or book you are studying. You do it by focusing on understanding the history, culture, geography, and political events surrounding the passage. Of course this method is highly dependent upon collecting quality Bible study reference tools.

The book survey method: In chapters 9, 10, and 11, Warren explains three methods that must be taken together. The three methods are best understood as a whole. In the book survey method, you get telescopic view of a book of the Bible. By doing this step first, you understand how the pieces of the book fit together. It helps you ensure that you won’t mistake the forest for the trees when you study the book further through the next few methods.

The chapter analysis method: Next, you focus your study on a particular chapter from the book you just surveyed. Through this method you’ll look carefully at each paragraph, sentence, and word in the passage you are studying. As you study the chapters of the Bible in this way, you’ll limit outside help and ensure that you’re getting your own insights on Scripture.

The book synthesis method: This is the natural conclusion of this set of three methods. After you’ve looked at the book as a whole and then analyze the different chapters within it, you’ll conclude by putting the book and all of the insights you’ve gained back together again. It’s a particularly important step after you’ve torn the book apart in the chapter analysis method.

The verse-by-verse method: In this method you take a particular verse of Scripture and study it in detail by asking particular questions, looking at cross-references and paraphrasing each verse. You can either use this study to work systematically through a passage or combine it with the topical method to look at all of the Scripture related to a topic.

Sunday, 6 March 2011


Just loved this post from John Piper about the meaning of HOSANNA - Awesome!

I know one of the concerns of the children's music ministry is that the children understand what they are singing and that they mean it. And I share that concern for our people. In a moment the choir will sing a song called, "Hosanna, Hosanna!" And after that we all will sing a song which begins: "Hosanna in the highest!" So I want to give a little lesson in Greek and Hebrew to make sure we all know what the New Testament means when it says in three different places, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" (Mt. 21:9,15), or "Hosanna in the highest!" (Mk. 11:9,10), or simply, "Hosanna!" (John 12:13).

You all know that the New Testament was first written in Greek and the Old Testament was first written in Hebrew. Wherever the word "hosanna" occurs in the New Testament do you know what the Greek word is? Right! It's "hosanna." All the English translators did was use English letters (h-o-s-a-n-n-a) to make the sound of a Greek word.

But if you look in a Greek dictionary to find what it means, you know what you find? You find that it is really not originally a Greek word after all. The men who wrote the New Testament in Greek did the same thing to a Hebrew word that our English translators did to the Greek word: they just used Greek letters (UNABLE TO DISPLAY GREEK CHARACTERS ) to make the sound of a Hebrew phrase ( UNABLE TO DISPLAY HEBREW CHARACTERS ). I know this sounds sort of complicated. But it's really not. Our English word "hosanna" comes from a Greek word "hosanna" which comes from a Hebrew phrase hoshiya na.

And that Hebrew phrase is found one solitary place in the whole Old Testament, Psalm 118:25, where it means, "Save, please!" It is a cry to God for help. Like when somebody pushes out off the diving board before you can swim and you come up hollering: "Help, save me" … "Hoshiya na!"

But something happened to that phrase, hoshiya na. The meaning changed over the years. In the psalm it was immediately followed by the exclamation: "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" The cry for help, hoshiya na, was answered almost before it came out of the psalmist's mouth. And over the centuries the phrase hoshiya na stopped being a cry for help in the ordinary language of the Jews. Instead it became a shout of hope and exultation. It used to mean, "Save, please!" But gradually it came to mean, "Salvation! Salvation! Salvation has come!" It used to be what you would say when you fell off the diving board. But it came to be what you would say when you see the lifeguard coming to save you! It is the bubbling over of a heart that sees hope and joy and salvation on the way and can't keep it in.

So "Hosanna!" means, "Hooray for salvation! It's coming! It's here! Salvation! Salvation!"

And "Hosanna to the Son of David!" means, "The Son of David is our salvation! Hooray for the king! Salvation belongs to the king!"

And "Hosanna in the highest!" means, "Let all the angels in heaven join the song of praise. Salvation! Salvation! Let the highest heaven sing the song!"

Picture a super bowl game, and (believe it or not) the Vikings are three points ahead of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are on their own 35 and have no more time outs. There are two seconds remaining on the clock. The Vikings' fans are going wild. The Steelers line up, fake a pass to the receivers on the left field line and run a wide sweep around the right end and the quarterback breaks into the open and heads down the right sideline -- 40 - 45 - 50 - 45. The only hope for the Vikings is Willie Teal, the safety, cutting a diagonal across the field. And out of the Vikings' grandstand come two kinds of Hosannas, the old kind and the new kind. One part of the crowd is yelling: "Catch him! Catch him, Willie!" (That's the old Hosanna.) The other part of the crowd is yelling, "You got him! You got him, Willie!" (That's the new Hosanna.) The word moved from plea to praise; from cry to confidence.

So when we sing "Hosanna" now, let's make it very personal. Let's make it our praise and our confidence. The Son of David has come. He has saved us from guilt and fear and hopelessness. Salvation! Salvation belongs to our God and to the Son! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Biblical Stewardship Principles fir the believer

I read these this week and was stirred in my heart as I reflect on my giving to God and his kingdom.

1. God, the creator (Genesis 1) and sustainer of all things (Colossians 1:17) and the One "who works within us to accomplish far more than we can ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20), is a God of infinite abundance (Psalm 50:10-11) and grace (2 Corinthians 9:8).

2. Acknowledging the primacy of the Gospel (Romans 1:16) as our chief treasure (Matthew 13:44), Christians are called to lives of stewardship, as managers of all that God has entrusted to them (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).

3. A Christian's attitude toward possessions on earth is important to God (Matthew 6:24), and there is a vital link between how they utilize earthly possessions (as investments in God's kingdom) and the eternal rewards that they will receive (Philippians 4:17).

4. God entrusts possessions to Christians and holds them accountable for their use, as a tool to grow his eternal kingdom, as a test of the believer's faithfulness to God, and as a trademark that their lives reflect Christ's values (Luke 16:1-9).

5. From God's abounding grace, Christians' giving reflects their gratitude for what God has provided and involves growing in an intimate faith relationship with Christ as Lord of their lives (Mark 12:41-44).

6. Because giving is a worshipful, obedient act of returning to God from what has been provided (1 Chronicles 29:10-14), Christian fundraisers should hold a conviction that, in partnership with the church, they have an important role in the spiritual maturation of believers (James 3:1).

7. The primary role of Christian fundraisers is to advance and facilitate a believer's faith in and worship of God through a Christ-centered understanding of stewardship that is solidly grounded on Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16).

8. Recognizing it is the work of the Holy Spirit that prompts Christians to give (2 Corinthians 9:5-7, Nehemiah 1:4-11)

9. An eternal, God-centered worldview promotes cooperation places the giver's relationship to God above all else. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

When these principles are implemented, that rely on God changing hearts more than on human methods, the resulting joy-filled generosity of believers will fully fund God's work here on earth (Exodus 36:6-7).

Friday, 18 February 2011

The One Princilple - An interesting read

Loss of ‘Life’ Prevention – you only need ONE principle - Check it out and let me have your comments.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Understanding the Bible (Part 4)

What are you reading? Old Testament or New Testament?

New Testament

'Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Sctripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had it's origin n the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit'.
2 Peter 1:20-21

History (Mathew - John) Four Gospels

History (Acts) The beginning of the church

Letters (Romans - Jude)

Prophecy (Revelation)

Ask the question, What was the original setting and what did it mean to the first hearers?

History (Mathew - John) This is the life and teachings of Jesus from four viewpoints. What do you learn about the person of Jesus? How can this affect your life?

History (Acts) What was the setting? What can I learn or apply from this?

Letters (Romans - Jude) Who wrote to whom? Why was the letter as a whole written? Can I apply aparticular lesson to my situation?

Prophecy (Revelation) Written in 'apocalyptic' style: poetic imagery. Prophecies concerning Jesus Christ are fulfilled and a concluding call to His Lordship assures us that He will soon return. What quesions are raised here?

Get stuck into God's Word for yourself. Dig, dig, dig and discover the treasure. And keep talking to God as you go and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus and his truth to you.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Understanding the Bible (Part 3)

What are you reading? Old Testament or New Testament?

Old Testament

'These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life n his name' John 20:31

Law (Gen- Deut)

History (Joshua - Esther)

Poetry & wisdom (Job & Song of songs)

Prophecy (Isaiah - Malachi)

In all the above ask the question what is the original setting and what it meant to the first hears

Law (Gen- Deut) A moral law for all time? A sacrificial or social law? Is there a general principal to consider?

History (Joshua - Esther)What happened? Where? Why is the story there? Is there a lesson for you?

Poetry & wisdom (Job & Song of songs)Poetry is a picture language. Allow yourself to enter into the emotion of the words as you read.

Prophecy (Isaiah - Malachi)What is the setting? Is the language sybolic or direct? What response should the passage evoke?

'The unfolding of your words give light; it gives understanding to the simple' Psalm 119:130

New Testament to follow....

Thursday, 10 February 2011

5 Ministry Killers

Just as we have to defeat and prevent termites from destroying our homes, so we have to defeat and prevent some invisible "ministry killers," and Charles Stone, Pastor of Ginger Creek Community Church, identifies five of them. This is brilliant!!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Understanding the Bible (Part 2)

How do you discover the joy of reading the Bible?

1. As you read, hold a conversation with God the Holy Sprit and ask him to help you understand it.

2. Approach God's word humbly and sincerely genuinely desiring to know more about God and his ways.

3. As part of your devotions, come to God's word in a prayful manner to discover the it's message rather than appraoching it as literature or information alone.

4. Allow God's word to lead you to be in awe of God of who his is and onto a journey of worship.

5. Apply what you have learned in your every day life

God's word is waiting to lead you into a wonderful encouter with God by the Holy Sprit that will transform your life and cause you to follow Jesus and serve his purposes for the rest of your life.

Hunger and thrist after him and you WILL be filled!

Understanding the Bible (part 1)

Someone asked me the question yesterday, ' can I understand the Bible more?' I sensed the hunger in their voice and shared a few things with them. It go me thinking about how I might be able to help others too. SO here we go......

The Bible was written centuries ago over a long period of time by many different people from all walks of life in a setting different from our own.

When you read a portion of scripture you should consider the following:

1. The type of writing

2. The context it is written in and for

3. The reason it was written

4. Ask yourself what can it now mean to me?

When you read a portion of scripture you must:

1. NOT take a verse or one part of scripture out of it's context

2. NOT creat an opinion based only on one verse or portion. This is a frequent error of cults and those who want to twist the meaning for their own ends.

3. NOT think of it as anything other than the word of God. Scriptures were written by real people for sure in real situations BUT under the Holy Spirit's inspiration.

As you open the Bible to read it, ask God to open your eyes and your heart and reveal the truth of his word to you by the Holy Spirit. HE WILL!!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Just loved this qoute I read today

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker. " ~ Helen Keller

Sunday, 30 January 2011

How to overcome dark valley’s by Rick Warren

I have valued the input and wisdom of Rick warren over the years in my life. This is an excellent post and fits in very well with my message on Sunday morning this week

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:4)

How do we handle the dark valleys of life? These facts about valleys can help.

1. Valleys are inevitable. They are a normal part of life. Don't be surprised by them. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble." (John 16:33)

2. Valleys are unpredictable. They’re sudden and unexpected. Jeremiah 4:20 says, "In an instant my tents are destroyed, my shelter in a moment."

3. Valleys are impartial. No one is insulated from pain and sorrow. No one gets to skate through life free of problems. Problems don’t mean you're a bad person. They mean you’re a person. In Matthew 5:45, Jesus said, "He … sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

4. Valleys are temporary. A valley is something we go through – a situation that has a season (see Ps. 23:4). 1 Peter 1:6 says, “Now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.”

Life is tough, but it's only for a while. There is joy ahead if we know the Lord Jesus Christ. There are no dark days in Heaven.

5. Valleys are purposeful. God has a reason for taking us through them. 1 Peter 1:6-7 says, "These [trials] have come so that your faith … may be proved genuine.”

Pain can be productive. God wants to build our faith in the valleys. We love the mountaintops, but we build faith in the valleys. When we come face to face with a dark valley, we get on our knees.

Prayer guidance: Ask God to walk with you and teach you through the inevitable valleys of life.

To think about: Recall dark valleys of the past. Were they temporary? Were they purposeful?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

So you want to lead others!

The Bible records for us that David was a man after God’s heart and also that he fulfilled the purposes of God in his day and generation and then fell asleep. From an early age, I wanted to be like that. What about You? The heart is crucial territory in our desire to lead God’s people well.

It is important that leaders develop the ‘skills’ in order to lead effectively. But there are several important qualities of the heart that every great leader should consistently build into their life.

Here are some things that I believe is 'The heart' of a Leader that God Uses:

1. Has a great sense of PURPOSE in life

2. Is committed to removing any HINDERANCES from his life

3. Places himself completely at God’s DISPOSAL

4. Has learned how to PRAY constantly

5. Is a student of GOD’S WORD

6. Has a vital, life changing MESSAGE for a lost world

7. Has a FAITH that expects results

8. Chooses to SERVE in attitude and action

9. Stirs up the GIFTS in themselves and in others

10. Is SECURE enough to empower others

11. Lives under the ANNOINTING of the Holy Spirit

12. Has been chosen to be an EXAMPLE before he leads others

So how is your leadership heart?

Action: select a couple of these areas over the next month and work them through

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Leadership Principles

Here is a condensed version from Henry & Richard Blackaby’s book, “Spiritual Leadership” on the 21 Principles For Spiritual Leaders.

21 Principles For Spiritual Leaders

1. No experience, good or bad, is ever wasted.

2. People may apply for various leadership positions, but God is the one who ultimately determines which leadership roles they will have.

3. God’s assignments are always based on character – the greater the character, the greater assignment.

4. The role of spiritual leaders is not to dream up dreams for God, but to be the vanguard for their people in understanding God’s revelation.

5. The real key to God’s promises is not people or physical resources, but God.

6. The definitive measure of leaders’ success is whether they moved their people from where they were to where God wanted them to be.

7. In God’s eyes, how something is done is as important as what is done. The end does not justify the means in God’s kingdom.

8. God has a specific agenda for every person and every organization.

9. The single most important thing leaders should do is pray.

10. The reason there are not more great spiritual leaders in our day is that there are not more men and women willing to pay the price.

11. Effective leaders are sensitive to the nuances of their words.

12. A pessimistic leader is a contradiction in terms.

13. Leaders should pay close attention to their attitudes, for these serve as barometers to the condition of their hearts.

14. Spiritual leaders are not discouraged by their circumstances – they are informed by them.

15. Spiritual leaders make every decision with the awareness that one day they will give an account to God.

16. Once leaders clearly understand God’s will, deciding how to invest their time becomes much easier.

17. God does not give people more than they can handle, but people regularly assume responsibility for things they should not be doing.

18. The quantity of work leaders can accomplish is in direct proportion to their ability to delegate work to others.

19. Spiritual leaders cannot rush in and out of God’s presence.

20. Leaders don’t jump to conclusions. They process the facts and seek to determine the truth of their situation.

21. Spiritual leaders are not haphazard people. They are intentional.

“Where there is no leadership the people fall,
but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Proverbs 11:14

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Team work works!!

Just love this by Blue Man Group. Reminds mean of what can be achieved by a team when no one cares who gets the credit!!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Great post on courage - check it out!

Find Your Courage!
12 Everyday Acts of Courage to Create the Life You Really Want!
By Margie Warrell

1. The Courage to Take Responsibility
Whilst you can't always control your circumstances you can always choose how you will respond to them. No matter what challenges you face you have the power to make the ultimate choice about whether to let the world affect you or to go out and affect the world. Resist the impulse to blame your woes on others but instead to make the decision to own your life and own it fully.

2. The Courage to Live with Integrity
Integrity is the only path in life upon which you will never get lost. Placing integrity at the cornerstone of every decision you make requires a willingness to do what is right above what is convenient or politically expedient. At times this means veering off the safe and comfortable path onto a less traveled one where the risk of failure or disapproval may run high. At other times it calls you to forge your own. At its core, integrity is about wholeness and alignment between your deepest values, what you are doing and who you are being in the world. Integrity calls forth greatness.

3. The Courage to Challenge Your 'Stories'
You do not see the world as it is, but as you are. Too often people live in answers to questions they have never asked and claim a monopoly on the truth. The fact is you do not own the truth, you just your version of it. Whilst it takes courage to question the assumptions and beliefs you've been living by up until now and opening your mind to alternative perspectives, doing so opens up new possibilities for yourself and your life that you otherwise may never have seen. Ultimately being willing to challenge your stories unleashes you to experience live in a whole new, more exciting and more meaningful way.

4. The Courage to Dream Bigger
You will never be able to have your dream job nor live your dream life unless you first find the courage to dream big enough to identify what it is. Dare to create a vision for your life that is bigger than the one you've had until now in your relationships, your career, and your life in general. Don't let fear keep you from connecting with what it is that inspires you most deeply for the greatest danger is not that your dreams are too lofty and you fail to reach them, but that they are too small and you do!

It is the aim, if reach or not, that makes great the life. Your life is as big as you dare to dream it!

5. The Courage to Be Who You Are
In a world that pressures for conformity it takes courage to be who you are. So express yourself fully and authentically in every relationship and in every encounter you have with others giving up pretending to be more or less or different from who you truly are. When you fail to be authentic you keep from others that which makes you most attractive; when you conform all that you have to offer others is your conformity. Be genuine, humble and, unpretentious but most of all, just be yourself. There is nothing more valuable or attractive.

6. The Courage to Speak Up
Dare to speak up, to give voice to your concerns, your feelings and thoughts and to engage in conversations that you've been hesitant to have before. Don't choose the certainly of never addressing an issue or fulfilling a need over the possibility that you may have an awkward conversation or a request declined. After all, things that aren't talked out get acted out as unfulfilled needs and unresolved resentments fester. Speaking up in ways that honor the dignity of others provides a means of building trust and deepening the quality of the relationships. It also enables others to know who you are, what you need, what you are care about and what you are capable of more clearly.

7. The Courage to Step Boldly into Action
Nothing changes if nothing changes. Have the guts step boldly from your comfort zone to make the changes and take the chances that call you forward to fulfilling the potential within you. Trade procrastination and excuses for a commitment to being a person who is willing to do what it takes to live the life to which they aspire. Whatever the risks you face in your endeavor, the greatest risk is to take none at all. Fear regret more than failure for life always rewards action.

8. The Courage to Persevere
Overcoming the setbacks and failures that present themselves on the way to your goals is what brings the greatest sense of achievement. Face your challenges with a deep determination to staying the course. Resist succumbing to resignation in the face of adversity for any goal worth pursuing will require its share of determination and perseverance. Connect with that which makes your spirit soar and remember that it matters not that you reach the summit, but that you had the guts to try. It is through perseverance in the face of adversity that the ordinary become extra-ordinary.

9. The Courage to Say No
Sometimes we need to say no to the good in order to make room for the great. However finding the guts to say no first requires first being clear about what you most want to say yes to. Doing so will help you to set boundaries in the midst of being pulled simultaneously in conflicting directions and teach people what you will and will not tolerate. Saying no when you need to may never be easy but the price you pay for not doing so far exceeds any momentary discomfort.

10. The Courage to Open Your Heart Fully
Life's richest fulfillment comes from being as open to experiencing life's pain as deeply as its joy. Opening your heart fully to the depths of emotion that a life well lived calls forward takes great courage but it is the only life worth living. By letting down your defenses and making yourself vulnerable to the anguish that life can sometimes bring, you can experience the joy that comes from connecting with others openly, intimately and compassionately. Drop the barriers that are creating distance and isolating you from others, reveal your humanity and make yourself available for others to know, to love, to care for and to connect with. Nothing is more nurturing to the spirit.

11. The Courage to Let Go
As human beings we like to feel in control. However peace of mind only comes through giving your best to life whilst simultaneously detaching yourself from the outcome of your efforts knowing that everything in life has a purpose. Put your faith in the wisdom that created you, know that who you are is not defined by the outcome of your efforts and trust that you have within you all you need at any moment to take on the challenges life presents to you. Giving up resisting what you cannot control and going with, rather than against, the flow of life makes available to living in the present moment. Finding the courage to let go will not impede you ability to achieve what you seek most from life, it will enhance it.

12. The Courage to Be a Leader
Leadership is not a position; it's a choice. Every day you have opportunities to be a leader for the essence of leadership is inspiring people to move in a direction they may otherwise not have gone, to accomplish more than they may otherwise have sought to accomplish and to grow into someone they may otherwise not have become. By choosing the path of integrity, personal responsibility, and courage you will automatically shine your light so brightly that it will reveal to others the majesty of their own. Ultimately only by living with courage yourself and being the leader you are capable of being will humanity, as a collective, find it's courage and lead the world into a future filled with possibility.

Nothing is going to stop me from doing what God has called me to do!

Here is a little more information about the life of Gladys Aylward who was a Missionary To China. (Many wanted to know a little more about her as I mentioned her in my preaching on 2nd January 2011)

Gladys Aylward was born in London in 1904 (or a few years earlier). She worked for several years as a parlormaid, and then attended a revival meeting at which the preacher spoke of dedicating one's life to the service of God. Gladys responded to the message, and soon after became convinced that she was called to preach the Gospel in China. At the age of 26, she became a probationer at the China Inland Mission Center in London, but was failed to pass the examinations. She worked at other jobs and saved her money. Then she heard of a 73-year-old missionary, Mrs. Jeannie Lawson, who was looking for a younger woman to carry on her work. Gladys wrote to Mrs. Lawson and was accepted if she could get to China. She did not have enough money for the ship fare, but did have enough for the train fare, and so in October of 1930 she set out from London with her passport, her Bible, her tickets, and two pounds ninepence, to travel to China by the Trans-Siberian Railway, despite the fact that China and the Soviet Union were engaged in an undeclared war. She arrived in Vladivostok and sailed from there to Japan and from Japan to Tientsin, and thence by train, then bus, then mule, to the inland city of Yangchen, in the mountainous province of Shansi, a little south of Peking (Beijing). Most of the residents had seen no Europeans other than Mrs. Lawson and now Miss Aylward. They distrusted them as foreigners, and were not disposed to listen to them.

Yangchen was an overnight stop for mule caravans that carried coal, raw cotton, pots, and iron goods on six-week or three-month journeys. It occurred to the two women that their most effective way of preaching would be to set up an inn. The building in which they lived had once been an inn, and with a bit of repair work could be used as one again. They laid in a supply of food for mules and men, and when next a caravan came past, Gladys dashed out, grabbed the rein of the lead mule, and turned it into their courtyard. It went willingly, knowing by experience that turning into a courtyard meant food and water and rest for the night. The other mules followed, and the muleteers had no choice. They were given good food and warm beds at the standard price, and their mules were well cared for, and there was free entertainment in the evening--the innkeepers told stories about a man named Jesus. After the first few weeks, Gladys did not need to kidnap customers -- they turned in at the inn by preference. Some became Christians, and many of them (both Christians and non-Christians) remembered the stories, and retold them more or less accurately to other muleteers at other stops along the caravan trails. Gladys practiced her Chinese for hours each day, and was becoming fluent and comfortable with it. Then Mrs. Lawson suffered a severe fall, and died a few days later. Gladys Aylward was left to run the mission alone, with the aid of one Chinese Christian, Yang, the cook.

A few weeks after the death of Mrs. Lawson, Miss Aylward met the Mandarin of Yangchen. He arrived in a sedan chair, with an impressive escort, and told her that the government had decreed an end to the practice of footbinding. (Note: Among the upper and middle classes, it had for centuries been the custom that a woman's foot should be wrapped tightly in bandages from infancy, to prevent it from growing. Thus grown women had extremely tiny feet, on which they could walk only with slow, tottering steps, which were thought to be extremely graceful.) The government needed a foot-inspector, a woman (so that she could invade the women's quarters without scandal), with her own feet unbound (so that she could travel), who would patrol the district enforcing the decree. It was soon clear to them both that Gladys was the only possible candidate for the job, and she accepted, realizing that it would give her undreamed-of opportunities to spread the Gospel.

During her second year in Yangchen, Gladys was summoned by the Mandarin. A riot had broken out in the men's prison. She arrived and found that the convicts were rampaging in the prison courtyard, and several of them had been killed. The soldiers were afraid to intervene. The warden of the prison said to Gladys, "Go into the yard and stop the rioting." She said, "How can I do that?" The warden said, "You have been preaching that those who trust in Christ have nothing to fear." She walked into the courtyard and shouted: "Quiet! I cannot hear when everyone is shouting at once. Choose one or two spokesmen, and let me talk with them." The men quieted down and chose a spokesman. Gladys talked with him, and then came out and told the warden: "You have these men cooped up in crowded conditions with absolutely nothing to do. No wonder they are so edgy that a small dispute sets off a riot. You must give them work. Also, I am told that you do not supply food for them, so that they have only what their relatives send them. No wonder they fight over food. We will set up looms so that they can weave cloth and earn enough money to buy their own food." This was done. There was no money for sweeping reforms, but a few friends of the warden donated old looms, and a grindstone so that the men could work grinding grain. The people began to call Gladys Aylward "Ai-weh-deh," which means "Virtuous One." It was her name from then on.

Soon after, she saw a woman begging by the road, accompanied by a child covered with sores and obviously suffering severe malnutrition. She satisfied herself that the woman was not the child's mother, but had kidnapped the child and was using it as an aid to her begging. She bought the child for ninepence--a girl about five years old. A year later, "Ninepence" came in with an abandoned boy in tow, saying, "I will eat less, so that he can have something." Thus Ai-weh-deh acquired a second orphan, "Less." And so her family began to grow.... She was a regular and welcome visitor at the palace of the Mandarin, who found her religion ridiculous, but her conversation stimulating. In 1936, she officially became a Chinese citizen. She lived frugally and dressed like the people around her (as did the missionaries who arrived a few years after in in the neighboring town of Tsechow, David and Jean Davis and their young son Murray, of Wales), and this was a major factor in making her preaching effective.

Then the war came. In the spring of 1938, Japanese planes bombed the city of Yangcheng, killing many and causing the survivors to flee into the mountains. Five days later, the Japanese Army occupied Yangcheng, then left, then came again, then left. The Mandarin gathered the survivors and told them to retreat into the mountains for the duration. He also announced that he was impressed by the life of Ai-weh-deh and wished to make her faith his own. There remained the question of the convicts at the jail. The traditional policy favored beheading them all lest they escape. The Mandarin asked Ai-weh-deh for advice, and a plan was made for relatives and friends of the convicts to post a bond guaranteeing their good behavior. Every man was eventually released on bond. As the war continued Gladys often found herself behind Japanese lines, and often passed on information, when she had it, to the armies of China, her adopted country. She met and became friends with "General Ley," a Roman Catholic priest from Europe who had teken up arms when the Japanese invaded, and now headed a guerilla force. Finally he sent her a message. The Japanese are coming in full force. We are retreating. Come with us." Angry, she scrawled a Chinese note, Chi Tao Tu Pu Twai, "Christians never retreat!" He sent back a copy of a Japanese handbill offering $100 each for the capture, dead or alive, of (1) the Mandarin, (2) a prominent merchant, and (3) Ai-weh-deh. She determined to flee to the government orphanage at Sian, bringing with her the children she had accumulated, about 100 in number. (An additional 100 had gone ahead earlier with a colleague.) With the children in tow, she walked for twelve days. Some nights they found shelter with friendly hosts. Some nights they spent unprotected on the mountainsides. On the twelfth day, they arrived at the Yellow River, with no way to cross it. All boat traffic had stopped, and all civilian boats had been seized to keep them out of the hands of the Japanese. The children wanted to know, "Why don't we cross?" She said, "There are no boats." They said, "God can do anything. Ask Him to get us across." They all knelt and prayed. Then they sang. A Chinese officer with a patrol heard the singing and rode up. He heard their story and said, "I think I can get you a boat." They crossed, and after a few more difficulties Ai-weh-deh delivered her charges into competent hands at Sian, and then promptly collapsed with typhus fever and sank into delirium for several days.

As her health gradually improved, she started a Christian church in Sian, and worked elsewhere, including a settlement for lepers in Szechuan, near the borders of Tibet. Her health was permanently impaired by injuries received during the war, and in 1947 she returned to England for a badly needed operation. She remained in England, preaching there.

In 1957, Alan Burgess wrote a book about her, The Small Woman. It was condensed in The Reader's Digest, and made into a movie called The Inn of the Sixth Happiness, starring Ingrid Bergman. When Newsweek magazine reviewed the movie, and summarized the plot, a reader, supposing the story to be fiction, wrote in to say, "In order for a movie to be good, the story should be believable!" Miss Gladys Aylward, the Small Woman, Ai-weh-deh, died 3 January 1970.

Almighty and everlasting God, we thank thee for thy servant Gladys Aylward, whom thou didst call to preach the Gospel to the people of China. Raise up, we beseech thee, in this and every land heralds and evangelists of thy kingdom, that thy Church may make proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

If God is calling you to do something, adopt the Nike principle and 'Just do it'. Yes it may be risky and it may cost you everything but be strong and courageous knowing that God will be with you wherever you go. Make a decision and a set up a plan to go for it this year.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Daily Rules from God for 2011

1. Wake Up. Decide to have a good day. 'Today is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.' Psalms 118:24

2. Dress Up. The best way to dress up is to put on a smile. A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks. 'The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward appearance; but the Lord looks at the heart.' I Samuel 16:7

3. Shut Up. Say nice things and learn to listen. God gave us two ears and one mouth, so He must have meant for us to do twice as much listening as talking. 'He who guards his lips guards his soul.' Proverbs 13:3

4. Stand Up ... For what you believe in. Stand for something or you will fall for anything.. 'Let us not be weary in doing good; for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good...' Galatians 6:9-10

5. Look Up... To Jesus.
'I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.' Phillippians 4:13

6. Reach Up... For something higher. 'Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, And He will direct your path.'
Proverbs 3:5-6

7. Lift Up!!... Your Prayers.
'Do not worry about anything; instead PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING.'
Philippians 4:6. Remember that God answers Knee-Mail.