Thursday, 27 July 2017

Babbling Brooks 2

The ripples continue too flow...

Well beyond the initial point of contact.

The stone was thrown in the water, but the ripples have indeed gone far beyond the place of 'impact'.

I sense, the tide is now flowing, im touching the wave.....

Who would have imagined myself being asked to speak at TMS?
Who would have imagined myself involved in such an environment?


Well it would seem, that even though as Dr Steve said to me, I was fourth choice, he saw an opportunity to make those present aware of 'a wider Salvation Army'.

I was thrilled to oblige and take up the challenge from Steve.  Not least because i totally believe that the young adults present hold a critical place in the present and future mission and ministry of the Salvation Army.

As I shared yesterday the brook bubbled, as the Spirit took control of what was said and offered into the room.  It was a real moment of 'revelation'.  
Did I foresee what would happen?
Did I imagine that the young people would feel like sharing what they did?
Did I imagine the response, to what was billed as a talk?
Did I imagine?

Sadly I confess,   No, I didnt.

But as the Spirit graciously honoured the openness and transparency of the students, the water did indeed flow......
But it flowed well beyond Bath!


Yesterday at the office people came and spoke to me about what they had heard.
Today people who had visited their children came and spoke to me.  Their children had been talking all about the night before!
My blog, which normally gets about 200 hits at a time, by the end of last night, five hours after it had been posted had been read by well over 1000 people.

The young people were talking about what they had seen and experienced..

The ripples had indeed flowed well beyond the place of impact.


What have i reflected and learnt through this.

1. We have some amazing young people.  I knew this but it was good to be reminded
2. We have some gifted and committed members/soldiers who desire to serve our young people.
3. The next generation are keen and open to talk about the things that challenge us as Christians today, which maybe people of my generation hide from?  Things which we need to talk about.
4.The future is secure IF we not only listen to the young adults but also have the courage to let them lead, release and equip them.
5. A point maybe to myself, which I need to grab hold of more often.   Have the courage to speak what the Spirit is saying to The Church and to trust my giftings.


Who knows where the ripples from this one night at TMS 2017 will lead, one thing is certain, Im not sure we can or should desire to contain it.  We need to let it not just ripple, but flow out..

My prayer today is in the words of a song for every young person present;

Let your living waters flow over their souls
Let your Holy Spirit come and take control
Of every situation that has troubled their minds
All my cares and burdens onto you I roll
Father, Jesus, Spirit.



Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Bubbling brook

I glimpsed something of heaven last evening.

I was speaking at the Salvation Army's Territorial Music School.

Seriously in the most unexpected of ways
It felt as if heaven opened before me,

And

I glimpsed something of the glory of God.

Seriously
I mean, I was totally caught up, captivated by what I saw and heard.


It was not what i was in the room to do (i was supposed to be talking about fresh expressions)
And it wasnt a 'Godslot!', or a devotional meeting.
But God seemingly had different plans.
And i want to always try and be sensitive to The Spirit.


My Spirit was jumping, and has been all day today!
I felt like i was in a different place, and I simply spoke the words, and ideas that He laid upon me.

I was in an unexpected place.

But even as I spoke what I felt were divine and insightful words (please hear me not in an ego centric way)
I still did not expect what I experienced with my own eyes and ears.


#newarmyrising


The Spirit of God bubbled like a brook, rolling over the young peoples lives, but it also
turned from a trickling brook and began to morph into a geyser about to burst forth.  

And burst forth it did!!!


Youngsters shared there dreams.
Their hopes
Their aspirations
They shared with honesty their testimonies.

#newarmyrising

At the end a good number of young people stood, wanting to stand up and be what Christ wanted them to be.
They were up for it!
They desired to see a #newarmyrising.

I ask you as you read this today to take some time to stop and pray for these young people, that God would not only have rebirthed a pioneering spirit within them but that they would also have the courage and faith to stand up and Pioneer a new way.

Young people we need you, we want you and we believe in you.
You can indeed make and be the new Pioneer Generation.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Water, I need water!

Weve been dipping our feet into the water....

It was such a scolding hot day,
We were so weary from the journey,
The sun beat itself down through the car windscreen.
The air con was on full belt.
Our water bottles were already empty from the journey.
Its been a bit of a heatwave for England these last few weeks, which has been lovely.

But yesterday was one of those days where you just needed to stop and cool off!
You know what i mean?


Its interesting that you are forced at times in the heat just to stop, as the energy levels are sapped from you.
You quickly feel and get dehydrated.
At such times you need refreshment,
A beautifully cold glass of water,
An ice lolly.
Or a parasol to shade under,
Or even better a lovely cold plunge pool just to forget yourself for a moment and jump in!


Im at our team retreat for three days.
Its the first one we have done since being formed.
We meet monthly for a quiet day
But we all felt we needed more.
So we made a commitment to stop for three days and learn together.

Our leader, Judith is a beautiful, Godly and wise lady who we all trust.

She said the following quote yesterday

‘with a drop in the water you can understand the ocean’.



She then began to unpack how often the things you wrestle with and see in an organisation can in fact be on a much smaller level present in your own teams.

So we have began to search our own hearts and have been asking God to reveal who we are and why do we exist together.


Its already been good to stop!
To be refreshed
To wash from our feet the dust of earthly striving
And to allow the living water to indeed quench our thirst.

Have you stopped to be refreshed recently?  Dont allow yourself to become spiritually dehydrated!


John 4:13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Baby Boom

Just look at him...

Isnt she beautiful....
Look at those eyes..
Isnt she like her mum...
Isnt he like his dad....

A new baby has entered the world, and everyone suddenly they become a different person and speak in some created 'baby language'.

One thing is certain, babies bring boundless joy!

We've all smiled, at the family that has just had their lives turned upside down by this new package, this new bundle of life has come into their lives.
Certainly in this age of social media we, as friends, get taken into the thousands of baby shots, every day.
First time ....this.....first time that....

The new born parents just cant contain themselves and it spreads.

I often wonder what does a baby think when they look out of their moses basket or pushchair and they see this gigantic face peering in on them?



The reality is the parents have spent the whole nine months waiting, wondering, and preparing.
There's no doubt that a baby in a family changes the way that everything happens, they become the centre point of everything.
From eating patterns to sleeping patterns.
To the ability to arrive somewhere on time
Or not be able to go to the desired places
Where once you took yourselves and a handbag....now you take a trailer of necessary items

Babies do indeed bring great joy, but they also impact and change everything about the way that people operate.

Ive been thinking this week, based on a meeting with the new national person responsible for mission across the SA.

Just why has the church in the west stopped having babies?
Isnt reproduction that natural outworking of a healthy church!


Ive just been reading Reproducing Churches by George Lings.  
He's a good a friend and has been a real gift to the church.  He suggests that many stopped having babies (planting churches) because in Christendom there was a belief that the whole world had been reached with the gospel.


The Empirical pursuit of the missionaries was to take the gospel to 'foreign lands' and tell all that they needed to follow Jesus.  Sadly more often than not what this ministry actually portrayed was a 'come and join how we do this Christianity thing'.   In no way does this seek to deride what faithful man and women have done.  Indeed imagine where the UK would be if it were not for the missionaries from Africa, Asia and Southern Americas coming and helping us to rediscover the mission heart of God for his people!


Im wondering has this been our downfall?
Have we forgotten that the primary function of a disciple is to make disciples.
The primary function of a leader is to make leaders.
The primary function of a church is to birth churches.

Why would we really need to have babies in the Salvation Army, in the UK?
Many people respect us.
Even love us
We can be found doing good works in many of the towns and cities across the land.
Whilst we are seemingly and have not been growing, we continue to exist, dont we?


Well as we all know if we dont have babies it wont take to many generations before we become extinct!
Could it be in fact that we are closer than we realise?

Having babies, is the most natural thing to happen, for the majority of people.
Indeed it could be argued we are on this earth to multiply.


I suggest these words are not only true of humanity but also of The Church, we are called 'to go forth and multiply.'

Have we forgotten the joy a baby can bring into a family?
Is it time to start creating birthing pools, rather than the numerous places of palliative care?

Are we a maternity unit or a hospice?

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

God Laughs

I wonder

Do you think God looks down upon us at times and just laughs?
I imagine He does.
I imagine God loves life in all its fullness,
Afterall if Jesus is the embodiment in human form of His Father, he declared I have come that you might have life, life in all its fullness.

Joy is key to the Fathers heart


The God who made the heavens and the earth and yet knows every grain or sand and hair on our heads.
The All Knowing,
All Seeing God, must laugh mustnt he?
When he looks upon us at times?



I mean we have all our ideas,
Our strategies
Our humanity, with all its weaknesses, sins and strengths
At times its as if we think we know best, even better than God (maybe not deliberately but subliminally?)
I do wonder do we sometimes forget who God is?


As I have been sat this morning, quietly praying for a number of people, friends etc I turned to my reading, and yet again I found myself laughing out loud with God.
You see this morning I have been writing, and expressing some thoughts as well as preparing some ideas and training.
My spirit was somewhat frustrated.
Indeed at one point I almost shouted out loud in my study!   WHY????!!!!! Argh!!!????? (thats the best way I can think of to express what I was shouting.)


And I think God was smiling as He looked down on me.
I read Jeremiah 32:17....
'Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is to hard for you'.
I read this after literally saying to God 'how on earth can this be addressed!'

In that moment I was reminded that we are engaged in Gods work, and He is able to do everything and anything.
So maybe its him we should be asking!

Lord Im sorry, Im glad youre smiling over us
I pray that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart today will be pleasing unto yourself  O Lord my God.

Lord help us to laugh today!



Monday, 10 July 2017

The Mission Station

I've been really wrestling today.
Wrestling whether to speak or to be silent.
Wrestling with something God has laid on my heart.
I awoke to the new day, feeling that I needed to express what had been revealed to me, with others.
So i wrote it down, and walked away.


When I read it back to myself, I thought dont send this spend the day in prayer.

So i have.
I walked for hours this morning, and have been quiet for the remainder of the day.
Ive read and reread it.  


The words that kept bouncing in my mind were
How will they know, if you do not tell them?


Over recent weeks on numerous occasions ive been reminded of the mission station from darkest England and the way out (a social reform book/plan by William Booth)


This morning on my walk
I met with a friend who has really been through it,
It was another of those 'mission station moments'.
He is one of three ministers who I have been supporting through a similar journey to my own from a few years ago.
My heart went out to him.
I knew what he was feeling.
I listened and I heard about how God has been with him
A bit like Israel and Moses in the wilderness.
He spoke of a new day coming and holding onto the promises of God.
In those moments I heard God speak loud and clear again.
My friend declared Jesus is Lord!
I smiled.
Indeed He is!
In those moments in that coffee shop, we were experiencing the mission station, the place of grace, of God reaching out to us both.



A number of my friends and people I know have decided to go a different way, in recent days,  i find my spirit saddened.
I, We need to ask some big questions.
Have we forgotten how to love our own?
Have we forgotten why we do the things we do?
Have we lost our way, in pursuit of the promised land, our inheritance?
Have we passed by on the other side when we should in fact be reaching out?
Have we in our pursuit of others who are off the mission station forgotten those who have been with us on it?

My friend reminded me that a few years before his ordeal he was given a prophetic promise from God, which now was coming true.
As I reflected on this promise from God I got home sat quietly and opened up my word for today.
'Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.'

This scripture has been a word that God has given to me several times over the years, normally when Im beginning to question whether my dreams will be realised.
As I read it I also received a message from another leader in one of our newest SA expressions.  They had just seen someone walk through their doors who they had been praying for and come into faith!!

In that moment I was reminded yet again this is why we do what we do.
We are to be as a mission station to the world!
Where people can encounter Jesus, and be shown a different way.
We are to rescue people and show them a new way, a way of hope.

Is it fair to say we exist for no other reason?


Sunday, 9 July 2017

Catchphrase

Who do you say that I am?


These immortal words of Jesus have been bouncing around my head over the last few days especially.
Its a good question to ask of people, who look at or live close by to ourselves as leaders.


I asked a number of my friends and followers, what do they think makes a leader?
Are they born or formed?
Are they gifted or trained?
Is everyone a leader?
Ive had lots of different opinions and thoughts as you would imagine when asked such a question?


Leadership is critical.
The acid test for me is 'followers'.
Has the leader enough credibility and depth to their character that they are able to empower, encourage and excite others?
Have the remembered that they themselves continue to be a follower 'of the way?'


I was challenged a few weeks ago by a friend who wanted to hold me to account on my views of leadership and training.  I was more than happy to have the conversation.  It was both good and helpful.


In recent days we have had a struggle with our new systems, and the way they are not doing what they need to as of yet it seems.
The result was someone who we have invested in and built up a good relationship with (our landlord) was failed.
Indeed sadly our systems so failed him, that he started to question whether or not we were telling the truth!  This hurt!
It didnt matter who was responsible, as it seemed to the landlord it might as well have been us!  Our landlord has on numerous occasions over the last two years said he liked dealing with us because of our honesty and the way we communicate with him.

The things people say and feel about us is key if we desire to be an influential leader.


Certain words, catchphrases help us to identify people.


For example;
Lubbly Jubbly  is of course DelBoy
Nice to see you to see you nice Bruce Forsyth
I have a dream, Martin Luther 
etc


The character/person is often determined by these kind of statements.

I wonder when people talk about us, and look at us what do they say and see?
Are we like the church at Antioch renowned for the catchphrase, See how they love one another?


I wonder what catchphrase people say of me? 
As we try to impact others there's no doubt that people are looking at us so closely.
I wonder what they see and what they would have to say?

Im hoping the landlord still says the kind of things that I have been trying to model, despite the set backs of recent week?

As leaders who profess Christ, its vital that our example, our words and our actions declare unashamedly what we believe! 

 As The Joyful Intercessors, join the ranks as Salvation Army officers, i wish them every blessing on thier ministries as they have said followed their leader, Jesus. I pray that they will be fruitful in their own leadership and that people will be encouraged to follow Jesus through their example.

I love their own sessional name, their catchphrase.  Here is my defintion which I used to pray for them yesterday and today.

A joyful intercessor is a person who intervenes on behalf of another in prayer and causes them great happiness and pleasure! Go do it Joyful Intercessors, now that is leadership!



Thursday, 6 July 2017

Stop! Look! Listen!

Stop! Look! Listen!!!   Pioneers especially!!!!


I sat there....
Thinking.
It has to be done!
The door was closed,
The blinds pulled...
The engaged sign was up on the door.
The intention was not to leave the room till the deed was done!


Can you imagine how I felt!!!
I mean locking a Pioneer into a room, is like starving that same person of oxygen. However it was one of the most productive days for some considerable time.  

Just productive in a very different way.

Indeed as I think about it, yesterday was kind of an APEST TEAM Day!
All the gifts were working well together.


What on earth was going on?
Well the Shepherd/Teacher Andrea had decreed that all the world should be taxed!   No that we needed to plan ahead!
Shes right.


You see the one major danger of Pioneers is that they do not plan ahead!
They talk all the organic and responsive language
They talk about being open to the Spirit and 
They talk about going with whatever lies before them
All totally valid and true.
Indeed paramount.
But I thought of a refereeing maxim last evening, which is used elsewhere.

Fail to plan and you can plan to fail!


With all that is happening across the country and europe in regard to Pioneering and Planting we needed to take time out to look at what God is doing and plan accordingly.
So Andrea, was totally energised in her gift mix, and actually so was I but in a very different way!
She had all her colour stickers
Her 18 month planner and her multiple items of stationary!
What did I bring, well actually for me a great deal of patience and a willingness to sit still, most of the time!  (Andrea might disagree!) 
Seriously I brought the visions, dreams and hopes!  My gifts!

We achieved so much, working in our own gifts but as a team together.  I smiled as I reflected on what Hirsch has taught me in recent days through 5Q about calling and function! Critical pieces of effective leadership.
Knowing who and what you are called to be then doing the functions listed against that gift and calling.  (BTW there's a excellent exposition of this in chapter 7 of the book!)  


There were some great moments also of laughter and conversation.  It was so good to be working in our home territory, as we call it Yorkshire.  It was great to see good friends in Lynn and Mike, our previous divisional leaders.  It was good to catch up with them. Together Mike and myself laughed about the planning and wanted to chat and dream together and Lynn and Andreas eyes seem to light up with the plans and papers etc.  Good people who continue to support and be passionate about the kingdom and ministry.  Good divisional leaders.   There were other good conversations to, with DMEs and staff from the service centre.  All trying their best to serve the mission of the SA.


As we finished the day.
So much had been achieved!
The planner/chart was full.
We planned in room and space to breathe
We planned in quiet spaces
We planned in space also for the new things which we have not even yet seen across the territory.
We planned yes we planned in next years planning day for Pioneering beyond 2020!

These are exciting days, even in the seeming chaos.  We need to plot a way through, and have the courage to follow the route.
But indeed fail to plan then we need to plan to fail!  Seems a timely reminder for all Pioneers.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Victorious!

YESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!
Victory!!!



So it had to happen

For those who hadn't realised
They lost,
Yes THE ALL BLACKS LOST!   In New Zealand.

I am still in a state of shock.
The seemingly invincible team, who have not lost for years at home, lost.  
I mean the Lions won!  (i realise to many this will not mean a thing, but stay with me!)

Both skippers were as humble in defeat as they were in victory.
But I spent yesterday afternoon sat in the sunshine reflecting on this result.
(if you didnt know, I rather love my rugby!)


Just one week before the media and many fans had been stating that they had lost because they were a new team, thrown together, and whilst they were all world class individuals they still had not gelled come together as a team.  They still did not really know each other well enough.  So on the back of the defeat they were going to spend a very intense week training and getting to know each other better.



It was clear to all this week that something had changed!   Yes the All Blacks had a player sent of, quite rightly for a reckless piece of foul play, to one of the Lions best attacking players!  However the more the game went on the more the team awareness, and togetherness came through.


As I sat, enjoying one of those rare things, a sunny afternoon in the Yorkshire summer, I was reading 5Q.  The book that I cant let go of at present.   APEST, is all about understanding who God had gifted you to be, and then living and exercising in those same gifts!  The results of a gifted and effective team, is obvious for all.  Growth happens!

Hirsch quotes Gandhi 'your beliefs become your thoughts.  Your thoughts become your words.  Your words become your actions.  Your actions become your habits.  Your habits become your values.  Your values become your destiny.'

And so I thought:

Do we believe the Kingdom of God can grow on earth as it is in heaven?
Do we believe that together we The Church can make a difference in this world?
Do we believe that together we have all that we need?

Its interesting to note that God brings couples, teams and churches together as a mixed bunch of people, who when they do indeed exercise their spiritual gifts together will invariably become one very efficient and fruitful group of people.

To often we, the Church live as defeated people.

Death and decline is it seems inevitable in the world today and yet, I remain convinced that the best days of Gods people lies ahead of them.   

Victory is not only possible but is assured in Christ.
Are we going to start to live in this assurance of Victory or are we going to live as defeated!
The media may say we cant do anything
The social networks may belittle Christians and their influence
The Church may have accepted that it is seemingly in the last throws of death.

BUT GOD SAYS, we are more than overcomers, more than conquerors, we are victorious!

Its time for us To Live As Victors, rather than defeated victims.

If Lions can do in the the All Blacks back yard, a place of seeming invincibility, then its surely easy for the Church to live victoriously in the world?

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...