Friday, July 31, 2009
There was a rhythm to the day. Night and Day. Sleeping and waking. Working and resting.
A rhythm to the week. Six days to work and one day to rest - an important enough rhythm to be enshrined in the ten commandments.
A rhythm to the year. Seven feast spread throughout the year, which were to be enjoyed and observed by all of God's people.
And a rhythm to the years. A year for the land to rest every seventh year and a year of jubilee every fiftieth year.
Yet our modern 24-7 world seems to have destroyed the rhythm of life. We can be on task from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep with our BlackBerry or iPhone in constant attendance. Even something as simple as the light bulb means that there is no longer any need to stop work and rest once it gets dark. The idea of a day to cease work and rest, to reconnect with family and reconnect with God, seems totally unrealistic. And even on holiday we're still 'on task', checking email, texting friends and updating facebook.
I think we need to rediscover the rhythm of life. As Bill Hybels says in his excellent book Axioms, to identify when in our day, our week, our month and our year we "cross the line" and say I'm now done with work and am going to stop and to rest. That if we work six days and rest one we'll achieve more than if we work seven days and rest none.
I'm not clear what this means for you. What it means for a busy mum or an overstretched self employed person or a busy executive to begin to build that rhythm back into their lives. But I know that it's worth fighting for. I'm trying to work it out in my own life, and for our family, so why not join me on this journey of rediscovering the rhythm.
This is based on my message from last Sunday - hear it in full here.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
My Bible readings today took me to 2 Sam14:14. I could spend a lifetime meditating on the implications, the wonder and the grace wrapped up in this one verse! Wonderful.
"Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him."
Have a great day.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Tomorrow Zak and I have an early start to catch the WizzAir (I still can't believe that's real) flight back to Luton Airport. It's been a really good trip visiting the two churches we are linked with here. I'm never very confident on trips like this as to whether I've really got anything helpful to say, but the more the week has gone on the more I've been able to share from my own experience of being in Bracknell, and the more I've been able to speak from the Bible and prophetically into some of the situations they face. It's also been really good having Zak with me.
I've also learnt so much from the leaders here. Poland is a very challenging place to grow a church, with a huge Catholic influence and the evangelical churches viewed with great suspicion, but despite that the two churches have between them baptised 26 people so far this year. They also both have buildings with incredible potential, but which also represent huge challenges. For instance the church in Swidnica owns an old castle (but no moat or drawbridge!) with buildings on four sides and a square in the middle. It's in a fantastic location close to the beautiful City centre, but the roof needs replacing which will cost about £250,000, before they can do the next phase of redevelopment. Please pray for them, and if you are stirred to give let me know. You can check out their website at www.kz.swidnica.pl
We've also got Ben Davies going to Lithuania and a team of 8 flying out to Zambia tomorrow, Sola Osinoiki speaking in a conference in Mexico over the weekend and the Youth team with Lee, Liam, Ethos (and Ken Bothamley sneaking in a youth) flying out to help lead a Youth Conference in Albania.
If you're still in the country I hope to catch you on Sunday! I'm really looking forward to talking about Sabbath so be there if you can :-)
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
How do you begin to describe visiting a place where over one million people were murdered? One million (in fact most estimates are closer to 1.5 million) men, women and children who were gassed, shot, hung, or forced to work until they died of exhaustion, disease or the regular beatings they received. Where as people arrived on trains from all over Europe the 70% considered too weak to work were led straight to the 'showers' where they were gassed, their hair and gold fillings removed to be sold and then their bodies cremated without their names even being taken. What evil can ever drive one human being to do that to another human being.
I held it together through looking at the pictures and reading the statistics, even on seeing a room with 7 tonnes of human hair which was waiting to be sold when the Russians liberated Auschwitz. But then we came to a room full of suitcases. Many of the Jews sent to Auschwitz were told they were being sent to new homes in Eastern Europe. They were even given fake property deeds for the houses they thought they'd bought. So they had packed suitcases with their most prized posessions, and written their names on the outside. We went into a room with thousands of these suitcases piled up. Then as I started to read the names on the suitcases it hit me. That the enormous numbers are made up of individual people. People with families, friends, jobs, hopes and fears, just like me and just like you. Some of the suitcases were tiny and must have belonged to children. I thought of my daughter Alice dragging her Mickey Mouse suitcase off on holiday, and I cried, imagining her suitcase with the thousands piled there.
Moments like this change me. Like sitting in a mud hut in Zambia with a mother dying of AIDS. I realise how privileged I am to experience moments like this. And that with the knowledge that brings comes a responsibility to live a life and lead a community where we strive to make a difference. Despite all my weaknesses, failings and fears with God's help to live a life where I truly seek to love God and love people.
Monday, July 20, 2009
It really ties in with an article in The Times I blogged about a while ago, written by the atheist Matthew Paris which was subtitled
"Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa's biggest problem - the crushing passivity of the people's mindset". Or a recently published book titled "God is Back", written by an atheist and a catholic, which shows both humorously and analytically that despite the best efforts of Dawkins and the rest God is very much alive and kicking, and that in every human heart there is a God shaped
Not that God needs any of this. He's more than capable of defending himself and building his church, but it's good to read all this none the less.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
If you didn't manage to pick up the new Ethos CD on Sunday evening you can now also buy it from iTunes - just search for "Ethos Calling Out" and you should get there. Or if you prefer to have versions you can put on any mp3 player you can buy it from Amazon. Or buy the CD on Sunday - the choice is yours. It really is worth getting hold of, and that's not just because Zak is playing on it!
Hope to catch you all at the Kerith Picnic on Sunday. A great place to get to meet people and scare yourself silly on the high ropes :-)
Thursday, July 9, 2009
It's an incredible privilege for me to have a week like this when I can worship with thousands of other people, listen to teaching which inspires me and points me back to Jesus, and reflect on my own journey with God. Having worked for years in a 'normal' job, it's a privilege I aim never to take lightly or for granted. And I hope me being here won't just benefit me but the whole of our community as I hopefully pastor, preach and lead better.
For most of us the realities of life make it very hard (though not impossible) to get times like this. But what we can do is know that God is with us in every moment of every day. That whatever you're doing and wherever you are the Holy Spirit is powerfully with you and God can speak to you and through you.
How to do that?
Thank God continually. Find every opportunity to thank God for things. Food, family, friends, nature, your senses, Jesus, money, church, whatever.
Make life a continuous conversation with God. Talk to God about everything. We need those times when we close the door and pray in secret, but also learn to talk to God in the car (just don't shut your eyes), when things go wrong at work, when you're having a coffee, before a tricky conversation, when somebody annoys you, when something on the TV disturbs or challenges you, when you feel happy and when you feel sad.
And read the Bible. Not in a heavy way that makes you feel guilty if you haven't done it. But as an adventure, expecting God to surprise you with the stuff he will speak into you as you plug into his living word. With the plan I started in January I'm now on my second time through the New Testament and over half way through the Old Testament. It's been a blast! Listen to an audio bible, use daily reading notes, use it as an excuse to buy an iPhone for the youversion bible, I don't care how but just get it into you somehow. And did I say don't become a legalist!
Hope that helps you have a slightly different perspective on today.
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I'm in Brighton this week for the Newfrontiers leaders conference (very good so far) but from afar have been working with Colin on Sunday mornings Celebrating Generations guest meeting. I got lots of good feedback after Father's Day, with some people even saying they felt it was our best guest meeting yet. Well having been party to some of what we are going to be doing on Sunday I think it is going to be every bit as good (and I promise not to wear my pants over my trousers!).
So please be thinking about who to invite. Whether it's parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, neighbours or friends. They're all going to be in for a treat, and more importantly hear some of God's heart for the generations.
As we did for last weeks baptisms the 5 and overs will be in for the first bit of the meeting and then be taken to their groups to register about 25 minutes into the meeting.
Hope you're having a good week and to catch you on Sunday.
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