Thursday, 31 March 2011

Day 23

Exactly half way through lent today........Im reflecting on an amazing evening at the launch of the Education Trust for Wetherby last evening. Simply inspirational! All of the speakers were brilliant but in paticular Marcus Orlofsky, who is a famous entrepreneur from the world of education. He shared how he had become successful and a world leader from the most humble and quite horrific of childhoods. He said too many of us are living our lives based on our history rather than living for our destiny! Do you want to be a person who fulfills his destiny? Well this sits so much with what i have been saying and thinking this year. We need to fulfil the destiny that God has for us. We do this by dreaming with him what is possible. I have a dream that this community will acknowledge that Christ at its centre. Where people have their needs met, where children are allowed to be children and are safe. I have a dream that the SA sits at the heart of this newly established trust because this is what we should be doing. Thinking differently and seeking out our detiny not living on our history. Today I need to take this further. Im going to once more share my dream and belief to the SA. Im going to encourage them to exercise faith in a way that they have not done so before. I believe we shoud be trust partners and offer to the school and the young people the opportunity to experience social and community action projects, to link with other countries and see the need around us. I have believed for many years, I have seen what is possible. Now is the time for us to seek out our destiny. Join with me please in praying that the doors will be opened and that this becomes a reality. Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven......

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Day 22

When we have exhausted our store of endurance, Our Fathers full giving has only begun! Noy by my might but by MY SPIRIT so says the LORD..................

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Day 21

Yesterday I declared I will seek to be gracious, as I faced the challenges brought to me by people. To achieve this goal I said that Christians have to be obsessed, in the right sense of the word, but maybe I wasnt enough!! Not sure those around me would say I was very gracious yesterday. I hate to admit it but I was so tired from the exploits of the weekend, motivating and passionately giving my all to the youth all day on Sunday had taken its toll, coupled with a lack of sleep! Man I was cranky....... Now when Jesus said come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest he was meaning for exactly the kind of reason as yesterday. I should have kept coming to Him, who would have given me peace in my heart and helped me then in turn to be gracious. Why? Because I would have been dwelling in His presence. Without harping back to much, you see it is that John 21 thing. Eyes on Jesus equals success eyes off and onto others equals failure. But then here goes the amazing grace of Jesus! He continues to love and enfold us even when we fail. In fact he knows and understands us and still loves us. He is like no other person. He does not store up failure records, he stores up more and more grace and love. So today when we experience failure, or when others let us down let me try and respond in that same fashion. For who are we to condemn and criticise, Im, going to love as Christ loves.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Day 20

Half way there or is it? NO. Apparently there are 46 days from Ash Wed to Easter Sunday but thats ok, Im learning so much about myself and about life that Im happy for this to be longer. Im thinking challenges, life is full of them. But how we respond to them is the key. Im also thinking people throw challenges at us each day. Im also linking this to the John 21: 22 text 'what is that to you'. Some days you feel like responding to the challenges people throw my way in my human nature but I must always seek Jesus first in how I respond. (not always a strength of mine). So this leads me back to one of my favourite challenges, that of grace. Grace is an amazing demonstration of Gods love, grace is I believe the way we turn things around, but grace is not an easy option. It takes much more grace to love some people whilst others it is so easy. But I am thinking that God is putting in front of me increasingly people who need to be shown grace but really 'challenge', my 'grace levels!' So how can I be what God wants me to be?? It is only surely by living out that John 21 walk with Jesus. I have no chance of showing grace and love unless my eyes are upon The Lord. The only way I can ever be the gracfeul person is to be so 'obsessed' with Jesus and His expectations of me that my eyes are fixated on Him. So I know that today is going to be one of those days of challenge. So looking unto Jesus I will be gracious today. Lord help me.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Day 19

Today has been such a long day but also such an amazing one! I was so pivileged to lead and be the speaker at the Yorkshire youth councils (13-25) about 150 or so youngsters gathered. High energy, high passion, inspirational. So much potential, no much of their future ahead of them, and upon such as them was this movement founded. I sought to encourage them to follow not Church but Jesus, to fix their eyes on Him.. The only way to live as a Christian. In the afternoon I made a mud pool and spoke about how the world and its standards can hang upon us, and how it can be so difficult to shake it of when we live in that world. All in all Ive come home exhausted, but greatly encouraged by these young lives who are seeking to live for Jesus. A privilege it was, but then isnt that was ministry is anyway a privilege!!

Day 18

Great game of rugby today, brilliant in fact. Its hard to imagine a better to way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The thing that challenged me most today was sat having my sandwich on the way to the game. I went upto the coffee stall, without realising, and came so close to buying a coffee without even realising. I stood at the counter and then literally smelt the coffee! Thankfully i realised what I was doing. I sat ate my sandwich and laughed to myself, habits are hard to break!! Thankfully I did stay firm, but only just.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Day 17

Slept so well again, maybe coffee isnt good for you?? Or maybe not so much in a day??

Manic day ahead, preparing for a big Sunday where I am the guest speaker to about 150 14-25 year olds, Yorkshire Youth councils. Suddenly feeling not only nervous but old! Trying to formalise my notes which is a challenge in itself as i dont often use them but need to for a variety of reasons with this occasion. Much of my thoughts will and have been on this come follow me theme and I am wanting the young people to realise that Jesus is the example and the power than they need to follow and experience.

I am trying to work through however if this is really true in todays world. Please dont accuse me of heresy or of lacking faith. BUT is is really possible to live this close to Jesus today so that in everything we experience His will and power? I do believe it is but im not sure I am living in this reality? My sinfulness, my thoughts, my mouth indicate to me that Im not as close to the 'power source' as I could be? I dont think i am being hard on myself, just honest. But i really would like to see all the miracles we spoke of yesterday happening with my own eyes. I do believe this lenten experience is causing me to get closer to Jesus but Im still not close enough.
Knowing me, will I ever be in this place or will my character and personality mean that I will always seek for more?

Seek and you will find!!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Day 16

It has dawned on me, even with the beautiful sunny early mornings that I seem to be sleeping deeply at present! In fact I feel like i am wanting to sleep in the middle of the afternoon! Is this the realisation of my age? I was speaking to someone yesterday who said I have to acknowedge Im not as young as i was and that my body isnt as able as it was! Is this happening to me...? Or is it the lack of coffee!!

Or is it to do with the crazy hours i work?? Am I so busy that I miss out on the opportunity to 'BE!'

This atttractive life changing faith, in the person of Jesus living in me, is not being evidenced enough by others around me! Or is it?? As I reflect through lent on how I am living I really do want people to be intrigued and attracted to Jesus through my life. As I have reread through the notes so far I am mindful that the key theme thus far has clearly been following Jesus example and making sure that I live as he does. So I need to spend more time deliberately being with him so that my faith can become radically alive. Im not saying its not alive but is it 'oouzing' with life. When did I last see a person be healed or rise from the dead??

Today Im going to ask the Holy Spirit to amaze me through some unexpected thing, to show someone that Jesus is awesome! Thats what i long for deep down.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Day 15

Ive woken up in thinking mode. This is something that happens often. I lie in bed having woken early, and my mind clicks into gear. Although not sure i was thinking that much as I decided to cycle to work, even with my injured knee!!! Think Andrew!

Dynamic faith. Following Christs example and looking like him, thats what its all about, this Christianity??

The bible says he had no beauty or majesty (Isaiah 53:1-3), it also says that we should be like him in our attitude and mind (Philippian 2:1-11). I struggle to believe that he was not deeply attractive, because he just walked into streets, market places, peoples homes and from what we read and from what i understand people flocked around him. Clearly Jesus was deeply attractive!

He had charisma, he was full of the Holy Spirit, people were not only drawn to
Him but stood in awe of Him. BUT not because He was an egotist, and extrovert but because He was so humble. His confidence came through the power of His relationship with his father.

The more i think about how Jesus lived, the more i think about what that means for all His disciples, I cannot get out of my head, this question jumps back in, well if everyone was attracted to Him and then followed Him, why is it that people do not respond in the same way in my community and even nationally? Are we missing something of the experience of the gospel? Are we experiencing the gospel in all its fullness? Are we needing to seek after and experience more of the depth of the Holy Spirit and then let this experience pour out of us? Questions questions today?? Lots of them.....

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Day 14

Today im going to talk to my building class of teenage boys about the challenge of Christian faith and following Jesus. My prayer is that we will have at least one deep and meaningful conversation. Im posting this at the start of the day in faith and will return to it at the end of the day. I am wanting now 2 weeks in to push the challenge of my faith deeper. Today seems a good way to try and do this!

Sir so do you believe in God? Do you Stan? What a great question and opportunity to talk about why we believe. I used to go to church but got fed up with it when I was younger. I then talked about how can you get bored with Jesus, and talked about what it would have been like to be around him. The dead come back to life, the blind can see, the lame can walk etc.

Christian faith is exciting and dynamic, not boring and onerous. What have we made it into? Do I comunicate through my life that same dynamic lifestyle? Do people get excited about Christ when they look at me? What a challenge

Monday, 21 March 2011

day 13

And the 7th day shalt thou rest...........?

Well apparently to those in the know, you are supposed to take the Sundays off during lent from your 'self denial'? You take, I am told the 6 Sundays in lent off which then gives you the 40 days concept. I heard this yesterday and have been thinking about it. I dont get it!

Im told that the idea is that you break on the sabbath so that you do not become proud of your achievements in fasting?? Well I just cant go with this idea. I am either all in, dedicated to doing what has been asked of me or im not, there are no ways out, no easy options! This links to my thoughts early on about the need for sacrifice for complete devotion to the task of following Jesus. I dont want it to be comfortable, with ways out. This is im convinced yet another way of trying to 'water down' what is expected in the Christian faith walk today. I am probably wrong and it probably totally historical what was said abotu 6 days off but I do not want a day of from following Jesus. Well that how I see it......

O yes by the way headaches are lessoning but all this water drinking means i seem to be visiting our bathroom much more than ever.......

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Day 12

Privileged to matter what?

Well i cant quite believe this. I have just been on the national rugby forum and someone has linked my blog to it on the basis of my refereeing performance yesteday. The followers are now not only talking about rugby but also my blog!!!

Ill restate then my point from the other day that people will judge Jesus through our lives! I wonder what they saw on the rugby field yesterday?

Day 11

What am i learning through this experience?

Let me share with you today what I experienced, which yet again links to this theme that keeps recurring, that being come follow me. I have already shared that when Jesus called his first disciples, i don't believe he called them to a way but to indeed follow Him. What Jesus was saying I believe was look at my life, watch what i do, watch what i say, watch how i respond and do likewise. Come follow ME! That calling must have been amazing........dead people rising, blind people seeing, the lame walking, the demons fleeing! Come follow me. And it even says you will do greater things than I have done!

So taking that all into account today I was blessed to experience what that means in a deeper way through creation. I was staying in a hotel, prior to my rugby game. My room looked out with a balcony onto a lake. I woke early to see the sunrise, amazing across the lake, so I sat on my balcony and saw 'creation wake up'. O lord my God when I in awesome wonder consider.....I was blown away and then as I travelled home from rugby as the sun set there was in the sky the 'super moon'. These were two magnificent examples of the majesty of creation.

God of creation, lived in the person of Jesus and it is this same God, the God of the sun and moon whom we are called by our names to follow. PRIVILEGE!!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Day 10

Glorious day the sun is streaming down what an amazing creation.......its a day for going on a walk. Walking with Jesus on the Emmaus walk would have been awesome. I will have to contend myself with a drive down the M1 with Jesus!!!

The good news today is NO HEADACHE!! And not even missed coffee today..................

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Day 9

Identity. I bear the name of Jesus! Therefore i am a christian!!

I bear the name of Jesus and as such i am therefore
  • I am expected to look like Jesus and
  • people judge Jesus by what they see in me!

I just heard it said in regard to the church, it is like a teenager. A persons first name is their personal identity, who they are as an individual and their surname is there family name, the name that associates them with other members of their family. (George Lings is a brilliant thinker and communicator) Therefore if i apply this thought to the church, the church local needs to embody its local identity whilst retaining its global identity, its wider family characteristics. A great explanation of identity.

Jesus has called me to bear his name but allows me to be myself as well. I need to celebrate therefore the uniqueness and specialness of my life whilst maintaining Christs characteristics. this is taking me further in regard to what it means to follow....

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Day 8

My head is banging today not from the lack of coffee (although that is still a bit of an issue) but from being stretched and made to think!

I am at a planting summit with about 30 national leaders from across the Christian traditions who are all committed or responsible for church planting within their denominations. It is humbling to be in such exalted company. From Pentecostals to high church all have been inspiring one another. These are amazing people, with some great stories of peoples lives being transformed. The one biggest thing that has stood out to me is simple really. If we want people and communities to have their lives transformed, then we need, as I said yesterday to follow the lead of Jesus and live like Jesus. But is this really a realistic goal in our society? Yes of course it is and the stories that I have heard, including the ones that i have recounted are all about the person of Jesus who calls and transforms what once seemed dark, lost and hopeless.

Esther says I have been called for such a time as this, I am reminded that as a planter with the SA that this is true. I need and have to do my level best to make a way for others to follow and find Jesus. This is not just a local thing for me but has to be the national mandate that I have been privileged to be given. Lord this experience is calling me closer to yourself, thank you Lord!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Day 7

Well why is it that when you are trying to do something everything around you reminds you of that same thing. Been away for 24 hours on retreat...and we had so many coffee breaks, but everyone was complaining the coffee was so strong they could not bare it. Basically just as i like it!!! People kept saying this at every break, and wanted to know why I wasnt drinking it! This in itself has been a massive challenge i so wanted to be strong and resist but to be honest the headaches havent been going away and coffee I am sure would have resolved this!! But resist I did!

Anyway the highlight of these last hours has been the command yet again come follow me.....this text has been all around me in recent days. Interestingly the speaker added to this though, that we are to follow HIM, to look at Christ in everything we do, to be obedient to His leading. We are not called to follow some king of rules and regulations, some kind of spiritual laws and rituals we are called to DO AS JESUS DID.

This has inspired me today. I heard and it landed afresh upon my life. What was great as well about this was that Jesus in every situation had the last word! When you look at every struggle and miracle that faced and involved Jesus, He had the last word. There is power in the name of Jesus.

So I am claiming afresh today that name of Jesus, I will follow His lead and allow in everything I face HIM to have the last word.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Day 6

What a beautiful morning, I woke very early to see the clear blue sky, sun rising and frost on the ground. We serve an Almighty Creator God.

Today is the first day when my head is not pounding away, well not yet. Fluid already downed and quiet time taken.

Two texts have flow into my mind this morning, come follow me and the john 21 don't worry about him you follow me. Keeping my eyes on Jesus needs to be my primary function especially in the next few days ahead. I am on my way to whats called officers councils for Yorkshire. This is a kind of retreat and bringing together of all the SA ministers across Yorkshire. I have not been for a number of years. Why? Because 1) i have not found them very inspiring in the past, 2) people seem to struggle with me and like to express that to me, 3) i don't really see the point!

Now given that in all things my response and actions need to be as if I am walking close to the Lord, and I'm not quite as patient and gracious at present as i should be, I need to make sure that I am listening and communing with Jesus in the hours ahead. If I keep my eyes on Jesus then everything else falls into place as He intends it. Theres a song that sits with this, Turn your eyes upon Jesus and the things of earth will grow strangely the light of his glory and face..

If I am to be credible as a minister I have to do as i preach. I so often say these words from john 21 what is that to you, you follow me...... The problem with people is not them it is me. I need in all things to be so 'obsessed' with my relationship with Jesus that everything and everyone is simply a blessing. Lord help me this day not to look to the left or the right....

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Day 5

Right new strategy today! Woke up extra early drank 2 litres of water and prayed the headache would go!! Now im not sure if it was this startegy or whether it was the inspiration of being with Gods people in worship. It was an amazing morning with two people testifying to the transformation that God has worked in their lives. People were led and inspired in worship by the band and we reflected on the last 18 years of the church's life and looked forward to the future.

I felt led to lay myself bare before the church and talk about this experience and the challenge that God the Holy Spirit has issued to my heart. It felt good to share with people the wrestles of choosing to follow, My Jesus wherever He might lead! My body is physically struggling but this is doing me spiritually and emotionally good.

The Word says Choose this day whom you will serve.......I want to be the person God wants me to be. This feels like its helping me to do so? However just sat and ate my muffin not the same without a Flat White thou!!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Day 4

No rugby, no coffee today. This is not a normal Saturday for me in anyway! So this is a day to chill, rest and recuperate from the horrid migraine experienced yesterday. Work was crazy. 15 hour non stop day, no wonder i was ill ! So I have just re-read the text from yesterday as the message version puts it and realised that two of the things which make up my normal Saturday are not present, so I have been given and even better option. Having almost finished prep, im going to relax, have lunch with the girls, (Esther and Andrea) and then crash......I wonder will I manage to sit still and be quiet. I'll add to this at the end of the day and see if I managed......or should i say if the girls managed with their normal Saturday disturbed.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Lent 2011

Those who know me well, will not be surprised that i am a thinker? My mind wurrs around so often at 100 miles an hour. I learn through asking questions and thinking about the responses.

So this year I want to have my faith challenged. Facebook, chocolate, fizzy drinks, sweets, scrabble......all things which maybe I could have chosen to give up to help focus my mind and prepare for the significant event which is Easter. But is Lent just about chocolate!

I have gone through this whole process, and even thought what is the point? The thing that kept coming back to me was coffee! No more than chocolate or any of the above things i hear you say, well thats not true exactly.

You see......I am a coffee snob, unashamedly. I love good coffee, ideally Columbian or Italian to be exact. Our work office and site has numerous coffee machines and there is always the smell of coffee wafting through the rooms..... But here is the point. I need coffee!! And this is why I really believe I have to challenge myself to fast from it through the next 40 days.

I should not need and desire anything, if I am serious about faith?? There is a danger that we can become enslaved by substances, habits, beliefs that are no different, worse or better than things which we The Church and Christians so often pass judgment on.

What I need is a deeper more powerful more intimate relationship with Jesus......And before people say whats the problem with my faith and ministry.......I am not saying there is a crisis or anything of the sort I am simply visiting something in my life which may or may not be getting in the way of how I live out my Christian journey.

For Coffee's sake is actually for Gods sake and my good.

Day 1

First challenge experienced. Do I tell people or keep it personal? If I keep this to myself then if I fail it wont matter, will it?? However I will know. I was saddened when I saw that a friend had failed in their lent journey in the first few hours, or so they said on facebook. I might fail but im going to try. If I tell people, especially those I work with then they will see and hold me to account!! They might even be surprised? They know how much I love my coffee......

The whole purpose is, remember Andrew, not to give up coffee but to go on a spiritual journey. So at staff prayers this morning I told them what I was planning to do. But I not only told them I asked them for help. You see as we journey in faith its not only God who helps us but our christian friends too. But to seek help you need to seek to live a transparent life. This already is hard work, living a disciplined life...or it is for someone like me.

Man I need a coffee!

Mother of all headaches..... at the end of the day. This has made me think, and re-emphasised the scripture i received this morning 'deny thyself.....' does it really cost to deny ourselves? I clearly am missing my 'fix'!! I'm glad in a way that I am already experiencing something of the pain of giving up. Of course this headache is nothing compared to the amazing gift of God, the sacrifice of Jesus. BUT we have made this Christianity stuff to comfortable in the UK. We moan all to quickly when it gets a bit tough and with it comes the temptation to do our own thing and to count the cost. I am going to do this.....God work a new thing of grace in my life I pray in this experience

Day 2

My dear friend and inspiration, Lyndall emailed me last evening with these words which have helped me already today crystalise my thinking about why I am fasting and blogging. 'Prayer changes things, prayer changes our world. How will you pray this lent? Matthew 4:19 says Come follow me'.

When I said yesterday that I need coffee, that was true. But I really need to pray far more than I do. I need to be living in the presence of Jesus. I need as I have said before to be living with the dust from the rabbis feet upon my own feet. I need and desire to be closer to Jesus. The closer I am to Him the more unlike Him I realise I am. The more I realise that I need more of his energy love and power to drive me forward as a christian who really does desire to make a difference in this world today and who is not prepared to settle for meaningless empty 'nice christianity'.

Yesterday I really missed my cuppa, or three, or four. but every time I felt like this is focused my attention on Christ. If you like it was a trigger to pray. And so I prayed. The words which Lyndall tagged from Matthew 4:19 ironically are the words I have been focusing on in preparation for a big youth event I am speaking at, at the end of the month. These are clearly words I need to hear? Unlike Lyndall and others dear to me prayer is not the easiest thing for me but yesterday in the midst of the banging head it became a little easier. Take up thy cross and follow.......

Day 3

I have been challenged by people as to why I am doing this, especially today. Its been the subject of serious and also funny conversations. No doubting today, that it is hurting! My reasonig is simply as I explained to one person. It is to use this time to focus my thinking and attention more onto Jesus. Everytime i want a drink I am being reminded to pray. (Today I have prayed lots!!)

Everywhere I have gone people are drinking coffee......the smell in the bunker kitchen as the house group met was just unfair, ha! However the one key thing i have gleaned today is this, that sacrifice is worth it, but it should cost us. I am thinking we have made sacrifice to easy and maybe we have not allowed it to be costly enough?? In fact have we removed sacrifice from Christianity when it comes to applying it to our own lifes? Have we really any idea in the west what it means to deny ourselves and follow, or have we made our christian faith into a nice little confortable religious package?

Do I want confortable christianity without the sacrifice? Matthew 11:28-30. 'Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

Emmaus Pioneer Journey

Picture the scene. You arrive, on a day off to spend the day with one of your children. To help him out. You're greeted by about 5 t...