Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life

You are not a Christian…but…

This came up twice, so I thought I’d write about it.
I challenged the church last night – if asked about their faith this week /
Or in their own devotional time:

TO NOT REFER TO THEMSELVES as CHRISTIANS.

But rather… as a CHILD OF GOD.

Because maybe we have become too familiar with the title, Christian.

As God’s child.

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Think about the Father’s love for you.
How the Father thinks good thoughts about you.
How the Father pursues you.
How the Father protects you.
How the Father provides for you.
The Father gentle hands that hold you.

“Who the son sets free
Oh, is free indeed
I’m a child of God, yes I am.
In my Father’s house
There is a place for me
I’m a child of God, yes I am.”

And I quite like this Third day song too:

(Dig the lyrics and Mac Powell’s voice is so cool!)

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life

The church and giving…

I had to chuckle to myself last night during the notices at church.
We seemed to be asking the people (congregation) for a lot of things:

Bring in things for our Harvest collection.
Bring in things for our Christmas shoe box collection.
Bring in your tithe… (How many sermons have people heard on that?)

September / October is going to be an expensive month for people!!

This got me thinking:

THOUGHT 1:

Sometimes there is this criticism by the people saying “the church is always asking for money.”

Well, yes! That is the case?

But look at your church… seeing what they’re doing with it?

If your pastor was getting a fancier car or an airline or something shady like that… then yes, get worked up about that!

However, if your church are ACTIVE in the local community, pouring out their resources to help others.
Bring light and love and kindness and care to a world that needs it.

Then celebrate with them.
And understand… a lot of those ministries need your money.

THOUGHT 2:

Maybe another way to look at GIVING is… that it’s not the “church is asking again” but rather it is part of YOUR LIFESTYLE…
Part of who you are!

It’s not just around Autumn (Harvest) and Christmas time…
But you give every month. Because you’have build it into your being. The way you live.

We don’t give out of religious duty (that 10% tithe)

BUT INSTEAD

We give, because it’s what we always do.

We give our money. Because we want to help others.
We give our time.
We give our skills.
We give our produce.
We count our blessings. And realise, we have so much!

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We live the Leviticus 23: 22 way:
“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’”

And we live this, every month!

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life

The Jesus in-between

The scriptures are essential!
We learn so much about God and Jesus through those written words.

BUT,
What about the unwritten words?
What about the Jesus in-between?

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I was thinking about that morning when Jesus had fish for breakfast with the disciples. (John 21: 1 – 14)

What did they talk about?
What did He say to them?

All those undocumented words…!

I keep thinking of the Jesus in between the stories and miracles and healing we have written down:

When the disciples walked from village to village with Jesus, what did He say to them?
He surely drew alongside them individually – and had some incredible conversations with them?

A lot of people will say, it’s not necessary to know…
(and well, simply, it’s pretty much impossible to know what was said.)

But I disagree that what was said, was not important or not necessary!

Yes, the Word as it is – is enough!

But, what if we asked Jesus to be involved in our in-between?

Because, surely, all those conversations, all the observations of Jesus (made by the disciples) during those three years – added to the fervour… they all had… in starting the church, starting movement… that carries on, till now. 2019.

It’s the documented stuff.
But it’s all the undocumented stuff… they radically changed the lives of those disciples. Without a doubt!

So we have lots of in-between moments.
The moments in-between bible readings.
The moments in-between times of worship.
The moments in-between your home and work.
Your undocumented moments.
Your non-posted moments.

Those are what also make up your LIFE with Him.
What is He saying to you there too?
Pay attention to that.

Walk with Him.
Drive with Him.
Have meals with Him.

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

The Jumping Castle

Last week, I received this encouraging email from a parent.
They spoke about how much their daughter enjoyed that Friday Night at Youth.
They explained how she absolutely loved the jumping castle (bouncy castle)
She also had noticed how the youth weren’t on their phones (that much).

I was really chuffed to get such great feedback and encouragement.

It got me thinking why would the jumping castle / bouncy castle be such a winning factor. And the simple and profound truth is:

It allows kids to be kids.
It allows kids to play.

Society is doing a dangerous thing by forcing kids to grow up too quickly.
Strange, if you are 11 or 12 and playing with toys, you would be shunned. Really?


On another note, I do find it peculiar that high school (secondary school) starts at 11 and 12? (Thus youth ministry looks different. We’re mixing 11 and 12 year old’s with teenagers. They’re still kids? Why are we forcing them to grow up so quickly…)

So anyway, back to the original post.
I am inspired to allow kids and teens to play more. Explore more. Be outside more often. (If it’s cold, wear a coat!)

And one other thing I noticed about Friday:

The adult leader who runs the tuckshop has a big role to play. They get to chat and listen to each young person as they come to buy stuff. At that hatch, they just share about their week.

Thanks for reading. That’s if you did. 😉

(Random thought. Just imagine a “jumping castle” for real? 😉 How bizarre! All the bricks and mortar jumping up and down… most certainly a fitting scene from something like Alice in Wonderland.)

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life, Wonder and Beauty

Fancy simple

They argue with their fancy thoughts and theories
They unpack the bigness
And spilt the small stuff
Wrestling in words and wisdom and wonder

Simply, I sit here
A cup in hand and pieces sprawled before me

I imagined You
Full of colour and creativity
Light and Love

“I fancy showing and giving MY love away.”

You held each of us (a mere piece) in Your hand
Simply, placing us, where we belong

The right lines in place
Fitting us in
Weaving and adding colour
It all came together
In Your time

You could see before all was born,
What they would look like.
And once we all lay together
Far more than a 500 or 1000 piece

You marvelled at Your masterpiece
And simply, uttered these words: It is good!
Fancy that!

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life

Of 96 hours of Easter etc… (Joy Tangible!)

One of my favourite* verses that depicts Christianity so well is taken from John 1: 14:

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (NLT)

The Word became flesh and blood,and moved into the neighbourhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.(The Message)

(*I’m beginning to think I have a lot of favourite verses…)

But don’t you agree and like this John 1:14 message?

So this weekend felt like that.
Starting with Good Friday.
Over the last 96 hours, I have felt and sensed God “stepping down” into our world. Very cool! From church spiritual moments, to seeing Him in the ordinary.

Friday morning, we set up the church with about 9 creative and interactive prayer and worship stations.
The cross placed in the middle. After all, the cross, emptied.. is critical to our faith!
Speaking of. Do you live out a crucified faith or do you live out a resurrected faith?

I really just loved the creativity of that service. (I love working with creatives!) God is most certainly a creative God! He would reach to us in many creative ways! Amen!

Friday night we did a stayawake / sleepover with the young people of our church (No point in calling it sleepover, really… most of us stayed awake the whole night. although, I did fade for an hour or so.)

There was this moment after midnight, where the young people and I were sitting around the cross:

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We just sat there in silence. There was something deeper happening in that moment.
And also, earlier in the evening, I challenged them to put their phones aside for an hour and 15 minutes. (For some that just big be a might challenge!)
At that point, by the cross, two hours later, no one had reached for where we had kept the phones. (A cool little victory to share. Detached for the win!)

Sleepy, but alive and well… headed out to my dad for the day.

On the train there, I noticed the smiles and colours of all the people. The sun was out in all it’s glory! And people were digging it! Sporting their brightest clothes, coolest shades, even people were speaking louder and looking up…

Then hanging out with my dad in the countryside, for a pub lunch. Sitting on a bench, soaking in the glorious sun. Then later, having a braai (barbecue) with him. Simple moments can carry such a weight of goodness.

Then comes Sunday! He is risen indeed!!

Absolutely loved how tangible joy was in our 10am service!
(I hoping that anyone with a pulse, felt it too!)
Joy, oh joy! Thank you Jesus for it!

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I really do like the team, I work with. We have a lot of fun together. But also serious in seeing God do good things in the here and now in our community and church.

Followed by a Sunday roast lunch with the Brooks and Errington families. What a delight! Community rocks!

Sunday evening comes, still not done… with Easter. Baptism time! 10 people baptised!

(I am usually a joker, like to laugh and make things lighthearted). But I had the privilege of being in the pool with Peter as we baptised him.
There was such a holy weight to that moment. I had not words. I just stood there with him. Sensing and feeling it. God incarnate. God so present. The moment was holy.

Then throughout the baptism service. Hearing the testimonies, the desire for Jesus. Then hearing the scriptures and pictures shared with the baptism candidates… so moving. So inspiring!

And the coolest idea (don’t think I’ve seen that before.) is that there were envelopes for each person who got baptised. The rest of the church could write notes and put them inside for them.

Can just imagine the words of truth, knowledge and encouragement given. Wow!

As they said in Narnia, Aslan is on the move. Amen!

God is on the move.

“For in Him we live and move and have our being…” Acts 17: 28

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

And in the morning (we will remember them)

Today was Remembrance Day here in England. These are some of my musings:

Just down the road from a church (just over 200 metres) there is a war memorial.
So this morning at 11am on 11th day of the 11th month, over 2000 people gathered to remember the fallen. (it has been a 100 years since the ending of WW1.)

Then after the service, we invited the community to come for free coffee (or tea) and cake that would be served in the old church building. We also invited them to come and see some of the war graves in our churchyard.

The people streamed in. It was great to be part of.
To see community and church together.
Our church service this morning was exactly that – the remembrance day service around the war memorial. (Why on earth, would we want to do a separate service?)

Coming from South Africa, we don’t celebrate Remembrance Day as much as in England. (Understandably, so.)
However, I felt honoured, to be part of the remembering.
People from all walks of life gathered together to remember. To pay tribute.
There were scout groups, girl guides, bikers, air cadets – all sorts.

She kissed him goodbye
See you again, my love
Her last words said to him
As the bombs fell from above

I pin this poppy on my collar
Thankful for your sacrifice
So that I can live out my dreams
What dream did you have before you took that bullet?

I can hear my heartbeat
Beating faster than usual
As I sit here among the mud and limbs
Oh God, I am scared

The noises don’t stop
I lie awake for hours
Hearing their screams
God, how did humans become so unkind?

I live in a new day.
I will remember.
I won’t forget…
To be grateful.

There have been dark nights.
In their lives, our lives.

And now in the morning (we will remember them)

(Darrel Hofland)

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life, People

I took away the word “JUST” …

Earlier this year I read a book. There was this part:

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The author was speaking about a guy who asked him a question on one of his speaking tours. The guy with the question started with: “I’m just a doctor…” and then asked the question.

The author then wrote about his opening line. And he asked:
“Would you want “just a doctor” to work on you?
Or do you want a doctor to work on you?”

Brilliant hey? A lot of people have been using the word: JUST.

I have been that person too. And when I read this above piece, I vowed to drop the word JUST.

When I was asked in the past about what I did; I would reply: “I am just a youth pastor.”

Oh that negative word: just.

Youth ministry matters.
What I do matters.

So as I head into my next youth worker position, I go with that confidence. That excitement. Wiser. Full of creativity, contemplation, life lessons and love.

But this applies to you too: How often have you used the word: JUST ??

Stop it!

We don’t want just a teacher teaching our kids…
Or just a policeman protecting us
Or just an accountant doing our books.
Or just an engineer building our bridges…

Posted in Faith & Church, Inspirational & Observations from Life

You can take a horse to the water…

…but you cannot make it drink (that water).

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I’ve been thinking about that recently.
And my approach to introducing people to the life and love of God.

I’m not about shoving people’s heads into the water to drink.
I just want to take them to the watering hole.

And hopefully they LOOK UP and see how beautiful that watering hole is!
I don’t care what colour horse you are.
I don’t care if you are a cussing horse.
Or a stubborn one. (stubborn mule, ey?)
Or a doubting one.
Or a unbelieving one. (“I swear I am a unicorn.“)

Whatever “horse” you are…
I just want you to come on a little journey with me.
Come see the watering hole for yourself.

Your heart will be filled with wonder
Your heart will be filled with joy
With love
With perspective
With hope
With understanding

When you are ready… taste the water…
It’s oh so sweet!
And life giving!

After all

“But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” Jesus (John 4: 14)

Posted in Faith & Church, People

Be like this tree…

He had an idea. That He would share with His first followers; and hoping they would grasp it (as with the others to follow Him.)

The smallest of seeds. Could make a big impact. If planted well and nurtured it would become the largest of all the garden plants.

And in it’s lush branches, the birds of the air could perch there. As well as other creatures… they too could find solace among the leaves.

These seeds would be acts of kindness. Words and deeds of grace. A warm welcome. You and I and everyone are invited in.

Question is, years later:
What seeds are you planting?

(based on Mark 4:32)