Saturday, 17 November 2012

Faithful with few things...

'You have been faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things' Matt 25:21

Faithfulness is a big issue for God. Why? It's about who he is, how he acts and what he longing to find in us. I beleive that God desires to entrust greater works to us but can he trust us? Can God trust you with a little?

Many want to manage the 'greater things' or the 'many things' before learning to be faithful in handling the few things well. Let's face it, some want to run before they can walk.

We all need to lean that it is not what we have that is important but what we do with what we have that is crucial.

Monday, 12 November 2012

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).

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

C J Youth conference in Belgium 2012

I just arrived home from preaching at a youth convention in Belgium where God is doing exciting things.  The leaders are doing an outstanding job organizing this annual conference.  

The conference was called Time for Heroes and it was incredible to see hundreds of young people making decisions to give the rest of their lives to serve God's purposes wherever, whenever and whatever it takes.

It was a privelge to share with around 600 who attended the conference and I believe that great days are ahead for the youth in Belgium.

Thank you guys for your love, welcome and hospitality, I salute you all - Let's go for it!  Click on the video below to sample a clip from the main worship team.  You guys were awesome!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

"Take the helmet of salvation" (Eph. 6:17).

A great post from Grace to you. 

The Roman soldier's helmet was a crucial piece of armor designed to deflect blows to the head--especially the potentially lethal blow of a broadsword. Soldiers of that day carried a swift and precise dagger designed for close- quarter hand-to-hand combat. But they also carried a giant broadsword, which was a two-edged, three to four-foot long sword. It had a massive handle that, similar to a baseball bat, was held with both hands. With it they could take broad swipes from side to side or deliver a crushing blow to an opponent's skull.

To protect us from Satan's crushing blows, Paul tells us to "take the helmet of salvation." Now considering all he's been telling us so far, he was not saying, "Oh, by the way, go get saved." Paul was addressing believers. Unbelievers don't have to put on spiritual armor. They aren't even in the battle. Satan doesn't attack his own forces.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:8 Paul describes the helmet of salvation as "the hope of salvation." That implies Satan's most fierce and powerful blows are directed at the believer's assurance and security. Therefore Paul was encouraging believers to have confidence in the salvation they already possess. He knew that doubting their security in Christ would render them ineffective in spiritual warfare--just as a blow to the head renders one's physical body incapable of defending itself.

As a believer, you should have the assurance that you are secure in Christ. If you don't, you haven't put your helmet on, and that makes you vulnerable to discouragement and doubt. Romans 8:29-30 assures us that all whom God justifies He sanctifies and glorifies. No one is lost in the process.

Jesus said, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28). That's a wonderful promise. So don't let your enemy rob you of the joy and assurance of knowing you belong to Christ, for the Lord will never let you go (Heb. 13:5).

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Why Did The Scotsman Cross Britain?

70 days, 700 miles reaching 7000 people with the message of the Cross

Join us at MKCC on Friday 7th at 7.30pm on September 2012 to hear the message Mark has for the UK

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Warning Signs Your Marriage is Disconnecting

Great article by Mac lake.

Over the years I’ve watched ministry take a toll on many marriages.  I’ve watched good, well-intentioned pastors lose their marriage, family and job because they loved the church more than they loved their wife.  The demands of ministry are great and never ending.  That’s what makes it so difficult for good hearted men to say “NO” and have times they are intentionally unavailable.  But this is the very discipline it requires to nurture the most important love of your life.

Marriage is a living organism that requires constant nurture.  While you may not realize it your relationship is never in neutral, you’re either moving forward or backward, growing to new levels of intimacy or drifting toward disconnect.  I’ve discovered several warning signs that can help identify the “disconnect” before the damage is too severe.  If you see any of these in your relationship it’s likely you’re experiencing relational drift and need to make some quick adjustments.

§ Not serving one another.  When there is a high level of connection among a couple they willingly and intentionally serve one another.  But a couple that is disconnecting tends to be self-focused.
§ Subtle withdraw. Couple’s who are disconnecting find themselves in different rooms doing their own thing in the evenings or on their day off.  Instead of doing life together they’re doing their own thing.
§ Selfishness.  If I find myself looking to “GET” rather than “GIVE” to Cindy it’s a clear indication that we’re disconnected.  Love focuses on the needs of others. When I’m focused solely upon my own needs I’m failing to love my wife.
§ Critical attitude.  If you find yourself nitpicking your spouses habits or actions then it’s a clear indication that a disconnection has taken place.  Ruth Graham has been quoted saying, “My job is to love Billy, not change him.”  A critical spirit is often an indication of suppressed anger.  So if you find yourself being critical look for the deeper reason for your attitude.
§ Lack of touch.  One of a woman’s greatest needs is affection, while one of the greatest needs of a man is sexual fulfillment.  When a couple neglects the physical development of their relationship it’s a sign they’ve disconnected. Touch is an essential element in maintaining a healthy connection in your relationship.
§ Impatience.  Marriage requires selfless humility.  If you find yourself being snippy or short you need to investigate why.
What’s your next step to take your marriage to another level of connectedness?

Friday, 17 August 2012

The inexorable love of Christ

 Read this excellent post by John Fiscer
crying brideLook at the marriage of Jesus... the one with the Bride who sleeps around, never listens, disowns, scorns, dishonors, runs away, intentionally proves to be more interested in anything but her husband, is selfish and bears the children of every affair and the scent of every escapade. It was a marriage that killed Jesus. And it was the Gospel that brought Him back to life to love once more. - Dan Haseltine

Did you ever stop to think about what a bad deal Jesus got when He chose us to be His bride? No one would blame Him if He gave up on us. Good thing He doesn't think like we do or He would have left this marriage a long time ago.

Listening to our culture, one might get the impression that a good relationship is something for which we all have an inalienable right. This conclusion comes from observing how quickly we look for the back door on any difficult relationship, and how that exit is usually justified on the basis that the current relationship is just too hard - the assumption being, there's someone out there with whom a good relationship is a much easier proposition. That's a far cry from realizing all relationships are going to have their challenges, and even the best will be severely tried.

Does God have a right to a better relationship? I suppose so, since He's God. But does He take it? No. And thank goodness He doesn't, or we would all be out on the street for sure. 

We could stand to think a little more like Jesus when it comes to our relationships. He never allows Himself an out. He is in this for the long haul including whatever suffering is involved. He is able to do this because He isn't thinking about Himself or His own rights. He is thinking about us. He even sees us as holy and blameless, yes, as even beautiful. He makes it so.

We become beautiful in that He sees us that way, even now, when we know darn well we are not. He sees the finished product that He paid for and washed clean through the blood of His forgiveness on the cross. And if He can see us that way, we should be able to see each other that way as well, at least enough to be more patient with the process. This is love over the long haul, and there's just no way any of us can be in fallible human relationships without this.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

10 Quotes that Should Shape Your Leadership

Thanks to Tony Morgan for posting this!

Here are my top 10 leadership quotes from the Global Leadership Summit last week.
1.    “An organization is not truly great if it can’t be great without you.” –Jim Collins
2.    “Too often we argue about Christianity instead of marveling at Jesus.” –John Ortberg
3.    “Don’t just delegate tasks to the next generation. If you delegate tasks, you create followers. Instead delegate authority to create leaders.” –Craig Groeschel
4.    “You are the most difficult person you will ever lead.” –Bill Hybels
5.    “The signature of mediocrity is not unwillingness to change. The true signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.” –Jim Collins
6.    “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” –Patrick Lencioni
7.    “When you are angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” –William Ury
8.    “When you’re in a position of authority, you need truth-tellers around you.” –Condoleezza Rice
9.    “I failed him for two years because I was too chicken to have the difficult conversation.” –Bill Hybels
10.  “The morale failure of a leader will challenge the integrity of others as well.” –Mario Vega
Now go print these out and put them in a prominent place to remind you daily what great leaders are learning and grow with them!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

4 Spiritual Questions From Olympic Games by Mark Pierce

Like many of you I have been watching and enjoying this quadrennial sporting event.  We’re glued to the tube, not only because there are few other good TV options, but also because there is something about the Olympic spirit that also touches our spirits.  Watching the world’s top athletes at the top of their form encourages each one of us to be “the best me I can be.”  This year, instead of just dreaming about your physical potential, consider these 4 spiritual questions as well.

How is my team participation?  My favorite Olympic events are the ones that are played together. No matter how great the individual effort, the team depends on the ability of the individuals to play well together. God did not intend for us to live individual spiritual lives either.  He gave us the church not only so that we might worship together, but also that we might do life together!  The Bible describes the church as a body: “Together you form the body of Christ and each one of you is a necessary part of it.”  Ask yourself: “Am I living my spiritual life as part of God’s team – with others?”

How is my spiritual discipline?  The one wholly remarkable aspect about every Olympic athlete is how completely disciplined each one is about their event.  No aspect of their training – exercise, diet, attitude – is too small to consider.  These people are disciplined. Seriously! Did you know that God has that same intention for us spiritually?  In fact God’s Word even puts our spiritual journey into Olympic terms: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  Ask yourself: “When it comes to my spiritual life, am I just out wandering around? Or am I running to win the prize?”

How is my coach-ability?  The Olympics’ spotlight is always on the athletes. Behind every great athlete, however, is a great coach.  That athlete would not be performing at such a high calibre if he or she wasn’t also teachable.  When it comes to our spiritual lives, we also must be willing to learn from others.  This demands openness and humility.  Ask yourself: “Am I willing to consider the advice of others?” The Wisdom Book puts it bluntly. “Stupid people always think they are right. Wise people listen to advice.”

How is my confidence? Every four years we see the same story repeated.  This athlete has confidence and as a result he or she “stuck it!” That athlete lacked confidence and didn’t perform as well.  What is the secret of confidence? You might be surprised to learn that confidence really means “with faith” or “with trust.”  We often pair the word, self, with confidence. Such self-confidence works for awhile, when life is full of  medal finishes. Each of us, however, will have those days, weeks, and even years, when we fall off the balance beam of life. Where is my confidence then?

The Good Book is named this way because it is filled with God’s promises.  Here’s one of the best! “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  When it comes to spiritual performance – especially in those most uncertain moments of life – Christ followers may rest in the confidence of God’s ability to perform perfectly.  He will help us cross that finish line to win a medal that will never fade or tarnish.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Here are 20 leadership tips in Twitter length:

Build people – People are your greatest asset as a leader.

Grow personally – You can’t take people where you aren’t going.

Direction matters – You’ll likely end up where you pointed yourself.

Surrender methodology – Care more about accomplishing a worthy vision than how you do.

Empower people – Give people real responsibility and real authority.

Keep learning – When you stop learning…you stop.

Renew your passion often – Keep reminding yourself why you do what you do.

Learn to rest – So you can always do your best.

Value the word “No” – You can only do what you can do. Trying to do more lowers efficiency.

Prioritize each day – Make every moment count.

Let failure build you – It’s the best way to gain experience.

Be honest with yourself and others – What you hide will often trip you fastest.

Know your weaknesses – Everyone else already does.

Listen more than you speak – You’ll learn more and make others feel valued.

Serving others brings joy – Giving back is the greatest vehicle to fulfillment in life.

Humility is attractive – People love realness and want to be around people who are.

Be intentional – Nothing really great happens without it.

Reject apathy – You’ll be tempted to settle for mediocrity. Don’t do it.

Protect character – More than you try to protect your reputation. Do this one and you’ll gain the other.

Applaud others – Louder than you “toot your own horn”.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Leading Artists

Leading Artists

in leadership,Leadership Rules. No Comments
Okay, so alot of us who run organizations, or manage teams, or have staff direct reports, are leading those who consider themselves to be ARTISTS of some sort.
Whether it’s musicians, or designers, or writers, or entertainers, or worship leaders, or those who sketch/paint/draw, I’m going to lump them all together for the sake of this conversation and my thoughts on how to best lead them.
Disclaimer: we are ALL artists. In regards that we all are called to create things of excellence. Some of us are way more “Artistic” at our core than others. That is who I’m talking about here. You know who they are on your team. Guaranteed.
I’m also VERY INTERESTED to hear from you on how you best lead/manage artists. Please comment below and share your thoughts.
Here are a few of my thoughts:
1. Start with reality. Artists are different. Not in bad weird way. But in a great weird way. So just begin with this, and it will help tremendously.
2. Lead, don’t manage. Share vision, inspire, and let them loose. Managing an artist type like you would an accountant, or a project manager, or a typical hard charging type A, is not a good idea.
3. Be very specific on areas that most think are ambiguous. Most leaders think that because artists are spontaneous and spatial in their thinking, that they don’t want specifics. So alot of leaders will be totally ambiguous in their interactions with artists. But just the opposite. Most artists need and desire very clear, focused and specific direction. They don’t mind boundaries; in fact, they welcome them (more insight on this from my friend Tyler Reagin here).
4. Give them room to dream. This might mean they need to spend an afternoon at a coffee shop or in the park or at the lake. Let them do that.
5. Include them in the process. If you simply tell them what you want once you and everyone else have decided, you’ll probably get it. But including them in the creative process will create more buy in and probably a better outcome.
6. Allow them to decorate and make their area “their own.” Their office or cube or space needs to reflect who they are. Otherwise, finding inspiration could be tough in the office.
7. Release them into their areas of greatest strength. Don’t burden a great artist with tasks and responsibilities outside their strengths. If it’s a money thing, pay them less but let them do what they are great at. Most artists care way more about doing their “art” anyway.
8. Aggregate artists in “pairs” and team lead them. I like to always have at least two artists in a meeting, on a team, working on a project, sitting together, and ultimately working together. It gives them more energy and allows them to vent to each other. Also, if you have personality conflicts with artists on your team, then “team” lead them. Don’t take it personal, but figure out the best way to release them and inspire them. It might be that you are not the best person to do that, and it’s okay that someone else on your team is.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Great advice for song writers

Worship Leader Process: Paul Baloche

We continue the Worship Leader Process series this week with Paul Baloche. Don’t forget that when you tweet or post this content on Facebook you register to win some BEATS BY DRE.
My friend Paul is one of the most prolific worship writers of all time. Chances are if you look at the setlist from your local worship service Paul’s name is on several of the songs. Paul is an avid Beatles fan and leads worship at his local church, Community Christian Fellowship, in Lindel Texas. Paul just released a new album, Same Love, and you can get it here. Now, for the 9 questions with on of the most creative and hardest working guys I know:
1. What does your creative process look like?
  • It consists of capturing any and all “inspired ideas” that catch my attention. I record the ideas on my iPhone – from prayers, sermons, or everyday life – then I carve out time during the week to listen back to those recordings – worship with them, play with them, and see if anything starts to take shape. I usually have several song ideas going at the same time.
2. When you write worship songs do you identify a target audience or focus on theme?
  • After an inspired idea starts to take shape I’ll consider what direction or what focus the idea should take, asking “Does this seem like it should be a ballad? an anthem? etc. ” Also, I’ll try to focus the lyric more and more as the song unfolds, expanding on a concept or theme instead of trying to cover the whole Bible in one song.
3. Do you have a favorite place to write or create?
  • Not really. I’m kind of A.D.D. so staying in one place stifles me. I’ll start off in my church sanctuary or home office, then go for a walk with the ideas floating around, then back home, etc.
4. What inspires you the most?
  • Life, creation, sunsets, clouds, etc. Visual things inspire me. However, I find that my best “inspired moments” come to me when I’m in the midst of leading worship, praying, getting “lost in God” – when I’m not “trying” to be creative.
5. When you feel you have hit a creative block, how do you overcome that moment?
  • Listening to new music, checking out some random bands on iTunes can help. Going for a walk, listening to a podcast sermon. That’s also a good time to get with another writer or musician to stir things up.
6. Do you prefer to create in community or on your own?
  • I love community. I gravitate toward co-writing situations even if I feel like my song idea is almost finished. There is something about getting with a person you trust – sharing stories, coffee, prayer, etc. that leads to something very organic and new. Even if you don’t finish a song, the time was well spent and good for the soul.
7. What is the hardest part of creating worship sets every week (or as often as you lead worship)?
  • The hardest part would be deciding if you’re teaching too many songs or getting stale. Also, keeping my heart fresh from week to week so that my worship leading doesn’t feel like “a job’ or “a gig”, but rather an overflow of some alone time with God. I typically stand on the platform with my guitar, worshiping or singing scripture when the sanctuary is empty during the week. Maybe an hour on Tuesday or Thursday afternoons. I find that this practice helps me when I show up on Sunday morning and the Church is full.
8. How do you balance original songs with songs that are leading the global church when you are creating a set?
  • I try not to take advantage of my captive audience (congregation) by pre-screening a lot of my new songs. I generally don’t share a new song of mine unless it stands out and feels strong during rehearsals. Over the years we probably are at a 50/50 ratio of original songs vs. global songs.
9. Who is the one writer you have not worked with that you would love to write a song with?
  • hmmm. Bono? Jon Foreman? Mark Hall?
So honored to have Paul part of the blog today. Don’t forget to Tweet/Facebook for your chance to enter to win the amazing Beats headphones.

Monday, 16 July 2012

The Faith of an Atheist by David Servant

I sat next to an atheist on a recent flight to Mexico. He was from England, where it is reported that only about 40% of the population believes in God.
Once he learned that I work for God, he didn't hesitate to tell me that he didn't believe my Boss exists. The very idea of God was absurd to him. Why would anyone believe in God? he said. But then he courteously asked me why I believed. So I told him.
I started by pointing to my wristwatch. I told him that I've never seen the people who designed and manufactured my Seiko. But I have no doubt that they exist because I can see what they made. And I'm even more confident that my wristwatch didn't just "happen." Surely he had to agree that only a fool would think so. By the same token, the intelligent design of the universe testifies of an intelligent designer. I then offered him a few examples of God's fingerprints found in His creation.
He was unfazed. Even though he agreed that my wristwatch was proof of watchmakers, the design of the universe proved nothing about the existence of God.
So I asked him what he thought about Jesus.
He said that if Jesus existed, no doubt He was a good man who had become mythologized.
I told him that there is no possibility that Jesus was just a good man. He didn't leave us that option. A person who declares that He existed from eternity past, claims that He came from heaven, tells people that their sins are forgiven, accepts worship from friends, allows weeping women to wipe His feet with their hair, and declares that He is the only source for salvation, is not just a good man. Jesus was either a very evil deceiver, a madman, or He was who He claimed to be---the Son of God. Take your choice: Jesus was a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.
The Bible was written by men, he politely retorted. The accounts of Jesus were likely exaggerated over time.
I reminded him that the accounts of Jesus' life were written by His contemporaries. At least two of the Gospels were penned by His close friends, Matthew and John. They were eye-witnesseses to just about all that He did. If Jesus was mythologized, it didn't take place over time. The four original sources---Matthew, Mark, Luke and John---had to have knowingly exaggerated as well as collaborated, as their four accounts all harmonize beautifully.
Moreover, most of Jesus' closest friends gave their lives to preserve their alleged common deception, a virtual impossibility. No one suffers martyrdom to defend what they really don't believe.
Beyond that, tens of thousands of other people in the first century died the death of martyrs because they, too, were convinced that Jesus was God in the flesh, that He died for their sins and was raised from the dead after three days, just as He had foretold.
I posed a question: What if someone wrote a biography about Winston Churchill that claimed that Churchill walked on water, multiplied food, cleansed lepers, opened the eyes of the blind, and claimed to be God in the flesh? How many copies of that book would sell? Would anyone believe the tales in its pages? Could a religion be spawned from that book that in a few years would be embraced by multitudes who would be willing to give their lives before denying their faith?
He had no reply.
I posed a few more questions: What if the Person whose history is recorded in the four Gospels came to the earth today and lived the identical life? What if He started working miracles of the scale that Jesus performed and began saying what Jesus said? What if He predicted His death and resurrection after three days and then pulled it off? Could such a miraculous life escape the notice of the people for miles around? Of course not. Might news of that life spread beyond that circumference? No doubt about that it would. Would it ultimately make history books? How could it not? Could such a life ever be erased from the world's consciousness? No. In fact, time itself would likely be divided into what happened before that unique Person and what happened after that unique Person. Such reasoning adds credence to the historicity of Jesus. If such a miraculous Person lived on earth today, 2,000 years from now, there would be a religion centered around Him that would span the globe.
He changed the subject to evolution. Surely I didn't believe in Adam and Eve. Evolution has proven the Bible to be wrong.
I replied that people seem to come from other people, and the world's population has been growing throughout my lifetime. It would stand to reason that if we work backwards through time, we'd find the original two human parents of the human race.
And although Jesus never mentioned Adam and Eve that we know of, He did speak about Noah, who was just nine generations from Adam. So it would seem likely that the man who proved by His deeds and words that He was God in the flesh believed in Adam and Eve. And if anyone ought to know if the story of Adam and Eve is true, it ought to be Him. Moreover, Luke listed Adam in Jesus' genealogy.
I told my British seat mate that evolution from one species to another cannot be proved by science as it cannot and has never been observed. And according to many scientists, the fossil record simply does not support the theory of evolution. I wish I would have had a few good quotes at the time for him like these:
Fossils are a great embarrassment to evolutionary theory and offer strong support for the concept of creation. --- Dr. Gary Parker, Ph.D., Biologist/Paleontologist and former evolutionist)
The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persists as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils. --- Stephen Jay Gould, Former Professor of Geology and Paleontology at Harvard University
Nine-tenths of the talk of evolutionists is sheer nonsense, not founded on observation and wholly unsupported by facts. This museum is full of proofs of the utter falsity of their views. In all this great museum, there is not a particle of evidence of the transmutation of species. --- Dr. Etheridge, senior paleontologist of the British Museum of Natural History
To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree. --- Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species
My British friend had only one card left...the religion card. He said, "Most all of the trouble in the world revolves around religion. Think of all the hatred and killing done in the name of religion. I think of John Lennon's song Imagine. He sung about a utopia where there would be no religion. How right he was!"
He had already told me he was on his third marriage, and because he was so quick to blame religious people for the world's strife, I was tempted to ask him what part religion played in the demise of his relationships with his first two wives. But I resisted that temptation. I think I may have stunned him, however, when I told him that, just like John Lennon, I was longing for a day when there would be no religion, and so is Jesus. Jesus demonstrated by His words and deeds that He was anti-religion. He was, however, pro-relationship, that is, in favor of loving God and neighbor.
I also explained that true Christians aren't just dreaming about a world that John Lennon could only imagine. We have the sure promise of God that one day John Lennon's dream of "all the people living life in peace" will be a reality. And there will be "no need for greed and hunger," when a "brotherhood of man" will be "sharing all the world." But it will only be enjoyed by those who have surrendered to Jesus' lordship, who have been born of His Spirit, and who already have a taste of what the future holds for them.
I told him that I had been an atheist at one time. He asked me what "turned me around." I told him that when I weighed all the evidence for God's existence against anything I could find to the contrary, I just couldn't remain an atheist any longer. The evidence was overwhelming. My faith was borne from facts.
And then our plane landed. It didn't appear that my words had shaken his faith in the least, even though it wasn't based on anything factual, logical, or that could be proven to any degree. He could not see that his faith was even more incredulous to me than my faith was to him. Firm against all evidence, he walked off the plane steadfast, clinging to what he wanted to believe. It confirmed to me once again that everyone believes something---either the truth or lies. And what people choose to believe reveals what is in their hearts. As John wrote, "Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). So we also read in Scripture: "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God'" (Psalm 14:1).

Monday, 11 June 2012

A Tribute to Jean Jaque Zbinden - A Director of IBTI & a spiritual father to many

I recently had the honour to say a few words at the funeral service of a great man.  

What an honour to pay tribute to a man who I have always looked up to and respected as a spiritual father.   JJ was someone who walked the talk and lived what he believed and taught from God’s word the Bible.  He was a Christ-like example in character and was fully devoted to following Jesus and serving his purposes in his life time. 

There are many things I could say about JJ today if time permitted.  I will always remember his unique humour, his contagious laughter, His remarkable singing voice, his stimulating lectures as a student, his resilient faith and the many stories and experiences spanning the years of his rich and full life he was happy to share.  I could go on….

However, the one word that stands out when I think of Jean Jaque Zbinden is a quality that challenges all of us here today, is the word devoted.  That is the man I knew!

1.      Devoted to God – Sincere, honest, humble and earnest in prayer

2.     Devoted to his ministry and calling
a.       He was passionate about teaching the Bible.  At IBTI but around the world.  Former students would request his ministry.

b.      He was committed to the training young men and women to preach the gospel and to plant and pastor churches around the world.  Some talk about this but JJ along with others have done it!

c.       He was Full of faith that God would provide all the IBTI’s needs; whatever they were.  As a student this blew me away as I saw God’s provision time and time again.  This was living by faith and it was modelled for all students and not just taught!

3.     Devoted to the local church
Whatever the season in church life, whether the local church had a leader or not, local people could depend JJZ to be there.  He loved the people and cared for the church. He faithfully continued to pastor and feed the flock as best he could.  He was devoted, a man who was worth double honour.

4.     Devoted to his family
He loved his wife Dorthy and together they became a unique team that  became a great blessing around the world.   They were given to hospitality and  willingly shared their home with friends, family, staff of IBTI, visitors and students.

He loved you Mark and Terry and would support you and be with you no matter what.  I always asked about you on my visits to IBTI over the 20 years of lecturing here and his eyes were filled with love and tenderness as he spoke of you both.  Devoted to you probably more than you will know!

He is a man who leaves a legacy for us all – A faithful and devoted life.

Right up until his passing away, Jean Jaque was not relaxing into retirement but was as passionate as ever in his service for the Lord.  Preaching, pastoring, guiding and leading the local church, on missions teaching in Africa and continuing to teach more lectures at IBTI than anyone else. 

His passion and commitment to Jesus Christ his Lord and saviour filled his soul every new day.  He experienced God’s steadfast love and endless mercy filling his life, and he had to do what he was made to do -  To preach and teach God’s word to as many as he could because he know that harvest was plentiful and the workers are few.  A devoted man. 

Great men like Fred Squire, John Wildrianne, Jean Jaque Zbinden and others have given their lives in selfless service to God’s work at IBTI,   Let us who love and support IBTI take up the baton and continue to assist in seeing as many young men and women trained in the work of the Lord in our day as they did in theirs.  I would ask us all to get behind the vision of IBTI in whatever way we can. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

My Tribute to my Precious Father

My dad was born in Macclesfield Cheshire in 1940.  He was the 12th child in the Sherratt family and was known as the baby of the family.  This was a large family with many stories that could be shared.  Although dad loved his family and was grateful for everyone looking out for him as he grew, he did share with me how he never appreciated being the last one in the bath water! He truly loved his family and has always spoken highly of them throughout his life. 

Mum and dad married at the grand old age of 18! They set out on a journey together that led them to Bournemouth where dad took up an apprenticeship as a plaster and tiler and mum worked as a shop assistant. 

After 2 years they moved back to Leek and I was born. 

Dad was a hard working man, he would often work all day and then take on extra work in the evenings to ensure our family had a home and our needs were taken care of.   To him, mum and I always came first.

I will always remember how much dad loved to help people in anyway that he could.  His biggest problem was that he could never say no and would often take on to much work.  He used his skills in the building trade time after time helping so many people, most of the time for little payment.  I sometimes used to get a little angry that he gave so much of his time for little return, but he used to say it’s okay, it’s how I can give to help others.  Early on I realised my dad was a generous big hearted man who genuinely cared for others. 

He believed in a fair days pay for a days work and would never consider overcharging people – a rare quality.  Dad took pride in his work and always gave his best (READ CARD).

Dad lived an uncomplicated life and his contentment with what he had was a real example to us as a family. You would never hear him saying he wanted the latest gadget, a better tool, a new car or a bigger house.  In fact, he would seek to use whatever he had to save spending his money.  This would cause him to excel in creativity!  (SHOW BRUSH)

Many knew him as a friendly guy who took people at face value and he was able to relate to most people.  He could talk for England and his conversation would go on and on and on, even with a complete stranger.  One time whilst visiting us for the weekend in MK, Alison had to rescue our postman from him as he was desperate to get on his way inching his way down the drive with Dad in close pursuit.

Dad will be remembered in our family for his famous sayings during our conversations like ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ or ‘you can’t put an old head on young shoulders’. Some sayings I couldn’t work out like ‘six eggs in a basket don’t make seven’ or ‘a horse for the field and a dog for the path’.  Much of the time he would get them mixed up and we would just laugh.

Dad loved a laugh, he was a fun person to be with, young people and children loved him and he connected with them. He would amuse them and also many of us for hours with the latest magic trick he had just learned.

Dad enjoyed his work in the Fire and Rescue service and jumped at the opportunity to work full-time at Leek Fire Station. He valued his colleagues and the friendships he made.  I know he had a great friendship with you Joe and that continued after you both served your time in the Fire Brigade. I always chuckled when he spoke about you because he always referred to you as his sub-officer right up until he died. 

Dad’s life changed when his grandsons were born.  He became a doting grandfather to Wesley and Mitch.  There isn’t anything he wouldn’t do for the boys.  Dad Lived for Alison the boys and me, and he hated saying goodbye after a weekends visit or a holiday. 

Dad was key in the helping to renovate four churches here in Leek and also a number of other churches around the area.  He was passionate about serving the work of the Lord.  Look around today, because this is his handiwork.

My dad was so proud of me in my pastoral ministry achievements in Milton Keynes.  He kept, saying over and over, your church is incredible, full of lovely lively people from all around the world.  I believe our church had a massive impact on my dad’s faith.  He listened intently to the details of my overseas trips and was blown away by our building project at MKCC and our vision seeking to share the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world.

In the last few years his spiritual life and relationship with God accelerated.  We talked a lot about God’s love and amazing Grace for us.  Dad explained that he often felt like he was not good enough for God.  This is a common feeling with many, and the truth is that no one can ever be good enough compared to God’s righteous standards.  But thank God for Jesus! Through His death on the cross he demonstrated his love for us and paid the price for our sin so that we can be completely forgiven and accepted into God’s family.  God loves us; he is not angry with us nor does he condemn us whoever we are. 

Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer 2 years ago. He had a choice to give up or to fight; he chose to fight.  Dad drew strength from his faith in God and his word and together as a family we supported dad throughout all his treatment.  Dad finally passed away peacefully with my mum and myself by his side at home.  I am so proud of my father. 

Dad was a generous man to me in every way.  For 49 years my dad has had my back, I will miss him.  READ card

Mum, you are doing great and I am so proud of you.  The way you have loved and cared for dad is brilliant and there is nothing more that you could have done for him.  Dad leaves a huge hole in your life I know, but I am there for you, I have got your back.   My family are there for you and your friends are there for you too. 

I want to say a huge thank you to MacMillan and the carers for all the support we received in these last few months – fantastic.  God bless you.