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We cannot avoid dangers and troubles…. September 22, 2017

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If the highest aim of a captain was to preserve his ship,

he would leave it at port, forever.”    Aquinas

Too often, we seek for safety and security at the expense of living life to the full. We want the great celebratory moments without the stepping stones of effort, pain and hurt that get us to this point. We should not avoid danger, we should not discount how the difficulties of life mould and shape us and we should never forget that the smallest of things can have the profoundest of impacts in life.

If we were to bleach, clean and remove all dirt and germs from our children toys, they would never develop a healthy immune system. In fact, they would be more at risk of the things that we fear, not less.  In life, do not fear the difficulties and problems, instead learn from them, grow from them and flourish in the new found skills and attitudes that will result.

Your job is not to stay safe on the shoreline but rather to explore the new horizons and the new worlds that are over the sea. Happy sailing!

 

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Celebrate what? September 20, 2017

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What we celebrate, we measure.

What we measure, we cultivate.

What we cultivate we become.

We need to think carefully what we celebrate

Numbers don’t matter? Do they? May 8, 2017

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It is easy to get in to the numbers game, not just the counting…ignoring them to. You cannot stand at the extremes, numbers do matter but we have to be careful what the narrative behind them is.

Last week we began our new missional community and, with all faith, said that even if nobody outside of family turned up, we would be happy. This soon changed as we had a number of people who committed to attend – 14 in all and my hopes had been raised, space would be a challenge and we were going to have an incredible start. On the day, we had 9 in total – but not from the group that had committed – just 3 from there. It was a fabulous start and I was (initially at least) disappointed.

Numbers are a guide, they cannot and should not be ignored. However, we must be careful to listen to the narrative behind the numbers and look at the long term success or failure. Jesus was deserted and by the time of his crucifixion was completely alone…..years later, the world was changed and numbers are beyond counting now. We need to track our numbers and learn what the figures say but the spreadsheet should not determine direction of travel or key decisions, for this we need the story.

There were good reasons why a number of folk did not turn up for our first meeting, we will be logging the numbers in the next few months and see the trends. However, they will not prevent us sticking to the calling at hand. We will see a community of believers transforming this area because God is at work and his faithful friends are serving. Some of these things can be counted, some cannot.

Numbers matter but numbers alone are a noose around our neck. They are a part of the story, not the whole. Numbers matter, do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

 

An Ambassador in Everday Life April 7, 2017

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Something that I wrote for the Ambassadors2020 website in March:

Almost a lifetime ago, Bob Hoskins’ BT adverts reminded us that ‘it’s good to talk’ and ever since we have seen the growth of the telecoms industry and an explosion in social media. Like others, my smartphone addiction needs careful monitoring, and so, I have chosen to say hello to the people that I pass when I walk down the street with the following caveat; to be willing to talk with folk that are up for conversation. It is so much more fun than the handheld screen.

A few weeks in and there have been remarkable results. I wait for eye contact and then nod, smile and say a casual greeting. Most people pass on, yet from this simple gesture, a number of conversations have been sparked. One guy shared the story of his life and the challenges he faces in retirement, and an elderly lady shared about her fears for her future as she is being relocated in a new development. Quite wonderful life stories that began with a simple smile and a ‘hello’.

 In both these cases, there was no need to share a full gospel sermon to go into great depths about Jesus love for them, but there was an opportunity to say that the local church is a safe place to talk of these concerns, to find friendship and to learn about faith in Jesus. Perhaps the greatest witness was the time that I gave and the willingness to listen and respond. Both these conversations ended with the individuals saying thank you for taking the time. It cost me nothing but left me with a sense that I had been a friend and that listening to them had been a support.

As an ambassador, I do not need all the answers, to solve all the world’s problems, or correct all the mistakes of others. But providing a little salt or a smidgen of light can make a big difference in the lives of those we meet. When we make ourselves available, in Jesus name, who knows what can be achieved?

As Ambassadors, it is ‘good to talk’, what conversations can you have today?

Goals are killing us… May 19, 2016

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In a work place that demands higher productivity, greater rewards and demands visible success it is no surprise that people are falling ill, requiring medication and suffering continual stress. The bottom line is market dominance, share price and brand awareness and if we are honest, this thinking has invaded the evangelical church to such a point that we are losing sight of God and building a church that is the bridesmaid and not the Bride.

We can quote sport stars that tell us ‘some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen and others make it happen’ (Michael Jordan) and put unknowing pressure on ourselves to perform. We need our church plants to be financially viable but try and model our churches on a franchise set up without reference to the community they serve, we want to see full pews in buildings that were built in a different generation…..the list is endless.

If you quoted that previous quote at Jim Elliot (missionary to the Aucas) his ministry would have seemed like failure. With the years that have passed, we can now credit the success of the ministry but it is only now that we can celebrate knowing that the Auca people met Christ. The disciples sat huddled in a room as their messiah was dead and defeated but in time they discover their resurrected Lord had conquered death.The missionary to London who has sowed seeds of faith continually in their neighbourhood and may never see the rewards but the person that follows…..Boom!

Goals are killing us…..because we are setting the wrong goals. The goal is to be faithful to a living God, to worship Him, living a life worthy of the calling we have received. We must not remain idle, we are fellow workers with Christ and will be held accountable for what we have done but we must reset the balance and set the right goals, otherwise our goals will kill us. It is not the balance sheet, it is not the numbers of seats filled, it is not the number of churches we have planted (they may be indicators of something…but do not over estimate their value) but the obedience to our call and the way we live our lives.

Set the right goals…..and know life.

Dyson on failure – Leadership May 27, 2015

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Dyson loves talking about the importance of failure in his life as an industrial designer. “I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum before I got it right,” said Dyson. “There were 5,126 failures, but I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure.” He goes on to argue that we often fool ourselves into believing that successful products emerge from a moment of “effortless brilliance.” To him, failures provide keen insights that enable the invention of unique products. Dyson explains: “We’re taught to do things the right way. But if you want to discover something that other people haven’t, you need to do things the wrong way. Initiate a failure by doing something that’s very silly, unthinkable, naughty, dangerous. Watching why that fails can take you on a completely different path. It’s exciting, actually.” 

Quotes for a Thursday August 28, 2014

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“Transformation is the inevitable result of the incarnation” – Joel Edwards

“Cities and churches can display all of the outer trappings of success but still be lacking in the sight of God when it comes to the marginalised” – Sean Benesh

“Your core values are influenced not by what you see, but how you see” – Paul Manwaring

“Keeping promises is a hallmark of integrity because it demonstrates that we can be trusted to do what we say we will do” – Graham,Huntsman, Blanchard

Loving one another in the online world August 26, 2014

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After being a little absent on the social networks these last few weeks, it has been interesting to review things that are happening and seeing the responses of people. One of the things that has caught my eye is the amount of vitriol that can come from the keypads of Christians when somebody appears to step on some of their own strongly held doctrinal viewpoints, or another ‘champion of faith’ is brought into question.
It is right that we contend for our faith and that we are careful to guard our doctrine but too often we have allowed ourselves to slip in to a barrage of abusive behaviours to others. Disagreement is a part of life, differences of opinion are to be expected but the line is surely crossed when we begin personal attacks that are, at best, abusive.
“By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” is the verse that springs to mind – words that Jesus used as he predicted his betrayal and just before his conversation with Peter regarding Peters own denial of Jesus. In the darkest moments, love one another….it is the thing that marks out God’s people from others. Surely if we are to make an impact for the gospel, we should bear this in mind in the way we communicate with one another….even more so in the public forums that are available to us. Recently, many have gone beyond saying ‘You fool!’ (see Matthew 5:21) and that leads to destruction – let’s be people who are strong, yet loving, courageous, yet gentle and let’s love one another so that we may see many more enter the Kingdom of Heaven as a result of our witness.

flickers of hope…. April 28, 2014

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Hope can be an odd thing. It comes and goes with the wind and can be so transient as to be unbearable. A great example of this (for sports fans) is the current English Premiership campaign – last week, Liverpool were the favourites and there was a huge amount of hope that a 24 year barren spell was at an end. One bad result and another team could now take the title on goal difference……for many hope evaporated. However, there is still a great chance that Liverpool could win – still games to be played and results required for all teams. However, the news and reporters have transferred all their hope to another. Fickle, transient and denying what is possible.

It is the same with life. The smallest of margins can evaporate or sustain hope and we can be like the wind blowing in different directions with all the challenges and changes that come our way. How much easier life would be if our hope could be certain, if it was guaranteed.

In truth, it comes down to what we have faith in, to those things that will sustain us – we discover very quickly in life who and what can be trusted. Trust in those things that will bring hope, peace and happiness. Then and only then will the flickers of hope become a flood.

Wisdom for all people February 4, 2014

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Some wisdom works in every scenario – for parents, youth leaders, managers, bosses, vicars, in fact, for anyone! One of those pieces of wisdom is from Ken Blanchard;

Catch people doing things right

Just a simple thing but so important. We live in a society were we love to find the mistakes, pinpoint failure and highlight error, yet one of the most important things we can do for another individual is to catch them doing something right. This is more than faint praise or general thank yous’ but a specific ‘well done’.

Can you think of a time when you were thanked, encouraged or praised for doing something right? How did it make you feel? Imagine if we escalated this and used our time to do the positive work before the negative, what a difference it may make in the lives of others.

Let’s start catching people out by catching them doing things right and see what transpires.