BEING BEFORE DOING

I have been in America a month and already I have experienced so much. In a weeks time I will be in Indiana experiencing my my very first All American Thanksgiving. I’m sure it will prove to be a wonderful time but before it comes we have plenty to do!

Thanksgiving is a massive family celebration in America where food is at the center. Yet as I live in one of the most affluent nations of the World the sheer level of poverty continues to amaze me! In order to provide for the poorest area of our City, Stone Creek Church, set out to host a thanksgiving give away…The Big Give. We are aiming to provide thanksgiving meals for 1000 low income families; which would include a turkey and 1-2 bags of groceries.

Almost 800 families have signed up so far with a week to go and this past week I joined a team which hit the local estate to tell its known disabled residents that we would be personally delivering them groceries even though they hadn’t asked for them. People were so thankful and you could tell the small gesture would make a major difference to their holiday.

When we were signing up one woman she suddenly started to sob as she told us that it must have been God who brought us there at just that moment. She explained that her son had just visited and told her that his pregnant wife, who is 5 months gone, is facing complications over her pregnancy and considering abortion. She was devastated and shaken; and after a short chat we were able to pray for her.

I mention this to say that what Stone Creek Church is DOING is unbelievable but I am learning its easy to pass through life and just get caught up in the doing. But in life it’s important to focus on who your BEING not just what you DOING!

I was so focused on what I was DOING for God; that I almost forgot what I was meant to be BEING for God. I find that when we concentrate on BEING…we can’t help but be DOING! I love DOING social action; but I prefer to be DOING it as a product of my BEING! Otherwise you get so caught up in DOING that we miss the opportunities where we need to be BEING!

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Open to Anyone

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Last week I spent a week helping lead the kids ministry for a Christian camp. Such a ministry can often require a sizeable team and we therefore had to look further a field for volunteers who would be willing to take the week off work. Two of the recruits were a young non-Christian couple; one of whom had grown up in the Church. Both excelled throughout the week, showed a real love for the kids and by the end of the week had given their lives to Jesus.

 

How amazing is that!? It was a great week…but one thing caused me sadness. Before the week had even begun I separately spoke to two mature Christians who were both unhappy that the Church leadership would allow non-Christians on the team. Their concerns were understandable and they weren’t out to hurt anyone; but I was struck with the thought that at times the Church is so hesitant to allow people to belong that we end up hindering people from experiencing God’s love.

 

The Church community cannot afford to be a closed community with a member’s only lounge that others can’t access! We must allow people to get up close to see our lives and experience his love. When we allow people to belong before they believe or behave; we simply model grace. Jesus’ perfectly modelled it with Judas. A man who has robbing him and who he knew would betray him… yet a man he allowed in his life from dawn til dusk, for 3 life changing years. Jesus withheld nothing from him, treated him like the others, sending him out to heal (Mark 6), embracing him instead of rejecting him…he even washed his feet.

 

The challenge is to make a way for people to belong in your life and your Church. What people experience through belonging will soon break what they believe and bring their behaviour into line. Lives will change when they are allowed to get close enough to experience God’s Love.

Down and Dirty

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After a week on a youth camp in Wales I have possible just had one of the messiest times of my life. A side from the sweat that comes with grafting at such events; I have giant scratches from a water slip n slide and the smell of fish trapped in my clothing from fish-gut infested water we dunked the kids heads in! I saw teenagers hurl up their entire weeks food in front of me due to the games we played and others just constantly caked in mud from rolling down hills. Yet not everyone got messy; some people held back  as they were afraid to get their hair wet or their clothes ruined.

It all got me thinking though that as Christians we are called to get messy! We are called to lead messy lives! But some of us don’t…we count the cost & decide its not worth it! You see the truth is that people are messy; their lives don’t fit in the box that we would put them in.

For the non-Christian that if fine because they can care about number 1 and number 1 only! But as Christians we are purposed and called to enter the mess of other peoples lives to bring life and peace! We are called to get down and dirty! The cost may be great but the rewards are worth it! When we choose to get involved; we choose to make an impact in the lives of others! We get messy to bring hope to the hopeless!

Chaos Creates Opportunity

When the world sees the devastating reality of what the flesh can do
they are often shocked to their core.
When we remember the riots across the UK last summer we see that
most people found it completely disgraceful. When we saw terrorists
kill thousands on 9/11 the World stood still in shock that anyone could act
in such a way. Sadly it is often only in these times that we see the true
unattractive and repulsive nature of sin.
Yet through the chaos of these devastating events an opportunity was created and was taken by the Church.
An opportunity to take our light and our Hope to a broken world.
On 9/11 pastors around North America were invited to lead the nation through their mourning.
Through the riots in the UK the Church responded by cleaning up the streets.

I like the idea that for every action from the World, the Church has the ability to give an equally powerful but opposite action that can often restore the chaos that sin creates.

Its a challenge to the Church to take the evil of this world & to show the Love of God.
Chaos creates an opportunity for the Church to Restore & Heal.
Are we seeing & taking our opportunities?

Dealing with the Disruptive

As we look back on past seasons, with the beauty of hindsight, we can quickly see the leadership triumphs and faux pas committed by managers & captains. With this we also see their resulting impact on the season. This season the Premier League top spot has been passed around more times than Tulisa’s Sex Tape. So we are left with the question and thought of, ‘could this have been avoided?’

In many ways the premier league managerial position is the ultimate leadership challenge. A job where you can never be a people pleaser; yet one where you need to constantly keep people on onside.

From the board of directors, to the players, to the press, to the fans and to the FA… they could all at some point sway the decision to make you history. You can never afford to lose their support.

This season we have come to realise that the test to leadership is NEVER just how we lead the yes men but infact how we lead the egos & then deal with the disruptive few.

This year at certain times City took the forefront and powered ahead of the rest. Yet on one day, after one mix up & misunderstanding, things began to change. Disruption in the dressing room and chaos was unleashed around Manchester City. Acting firmly and swiftly the manager took a clean swipe and made his feelings known to the World. Making statements which turned out to be empty threats; but threats which had a big impact. Following this event and more miscommunication (or no communication) a team was without its top goal scorer (prev. season) for 5 crucial months.

Whether this leads to their loss of the season and their failure to progress in other competitions will soon be seen.

However in this Saga we can see that a number of leadership faux pas…

1. Communication Malfunction :-  Problems began when Mancini were misunderstood by Tevez. These communication errors continued and resulted in Tevez absconding. Leaders need to be clear &  concise when they communicate. Be aware of not only your language but also your gestures. Mancini never sat Tevez down after his actions and questioned him about his behaviour. He made assumptions & turned things from bad to worse.

2. Acting Irrationally :- Understandably Mancini was embarrassed that his player refused to play. But claiming on live tv to the World that he will never play again for the club is a response that will not convey the right message to the Player & is an action which in many ways was something he couldn’t control. Off the back of this threat Tevez saw no reason to stick around and left the country for 5 months. Leaders need to act after receiving council and speaking to the disruptive member…Don’t just be reactive but be proactive in finding the way to handle each situation.

3. Pride Hurt & Perspective Lost :- It’s true that a leader must be in control and that a leader can’t afford to lose the respect of his team. In this situation though Mancini was stung & felt like he needed to use power in order to assert his authority….all because his pride was hurt. As Leaders when our actions are birthed out of our own insecurities & annoyances we begin to lose perspective. Working & doing things for ourselves & not the cause the team fights for. When Mancini’s pride was hurt he failed to act in the interests of the team and the cause they were fighting for. At its core it was about him. A leader’s role is act in a way that brings the most fruit & success for the team and their cause. A leader’s role is to act out of this objective and not out of his own desires.

 

I may have made some unfair & uninformed observations about the Tevez saga but I am a United fan. By no means were Mancini’s actions terrible…at the time they were even praised….

But with hindsight I can’t help but feel like had he dealt with the disruptive differently then City would be smug right about now! 🙂

Man vs Wild: Be a Survivor

 

Man vs Wild is a show that captures the heart of every MAN!

It excites a man’s passion for the outdoors and for sheer survival.

For those of you who haven’t seen it; Bear Grylls gets dumped in essentially

the middle of nowhere and is left alone to fend for himself & fight for survival.

The journey he faces is a long hard slog, made all the harder as he is flying solo.

 

Sadly I often see in this show a reflection of our World which is full of broken people.

So many people seem to be lost in the middle of nowhere & fighting for survival.

So many people are struggling in life & most are struggling alone.

Finance, pornography, relationships, drugs & alcohol addiction, anger… the list goes on.

Yet I believe there is a better way. A way where we don’t need to struggle to survive day by day.

In my struggles I have found Jesus to be the answer. He has strengthened me & the Church has supported me.

 

Life alone sucks. But people living Christ-Centred lives together will survive the distance.

So are you in Survival mode?

Are you a little lost & struggling to go on?

What are you going to do about it?

 

 

 

Vision changes Everything

The western world is plagued with Churches…some big & some small.

But some stand head and shoulders above all the others.

They are influencial & they impact the community.

These Churches are driven by a VISION.

I am beginning to appreciate the power of Vision.

A clear Vision gives something for people to buy into.

A clear Vision gives people a cause they can live for.

A clear Vision will lead  people to find their purpose.

A clear Vision will forge & creates unity & community.

‘Where there is NO VISION; the people will perish’ – Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)

What’s your vision    &   Are you communicating it?