If we believe that God is enough why do we feel like we have to be enough as well?

If I go into a shop to buy something that costs £10 and I have £10 note then I have enough to pay. There is no need for me to worry about whether I have any extra money because I know that I have enough.

Christians believe that God is all-knowing and all powerful and that he is enough for any and every situation.  Ironically, whilst believing this, we can often shy away from things because we feel inadequate or because we don’t feel that we don’t have the resources.

It’s challenging isn’t it?

If we believe that God is enough, then why do we feel like we have to be good/powerful/skillful/experienced enough in order to do his work?

Last night we had a church meeting at Orchard Baptist and I had a full and busy day leading up to it. Around 5pm I said to God something like ‘I’m not feeling 100%, I’m not sure that I am absolutely ready for this meeting, I don’t feel like I am enough but I am willing to trust that you are’.

When you ‘let go and let God’, it is incredibly liberating.

The meeting was amazing and God met with us and blessed us in so many ways. 🙂

God says,
‘My grace is all you need.
My power works best in weakness’
2 Corinthians 12.9)

In other words, God power works best when we realize that we aren’t enough and so we have to let him lead and take control.

Do you believe that God is enough?

If so, are you willing to confess that you are not enough and that you need God? Are we willing to let his power work in our weakness?

As I travel through life, I know that God is with me and he is enough. I don’t have to worry about whether I am enough because I know that in God that I have enough for any and every situation.

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People are more Important than Projects

People really are more important that Projects but is that the reality in church life?

Does the church that you are part of view people primarily as a resource for fueling their projects or as children of God who are valuable and loved?

Do we want to help people to become who God is calling them to be or is priority to shoehorn them into what we are trying to accomplish?

Do you ever feel like the church leader I spoke to recently who said ‘I want to be a part of a church that doesn’t wear people out!’

One of the points that churches often lose sight of the value of people is when it comes to outreach. Most churches I have come across have an evangelistic strategy that is all about projects or events.

I heard a story recently about a church that ran what they claimed was a successful outreach event. It was a coffee morning and lots of people who never would have darkened the doors of the church turned up to drink coffee and to eat cake. They thought they were doing well but the problem was that all the church people stayed behind the counter and didn’t interact with their guests except to sell them things.

The church was running a project that looked good but they had lost sight of the primary purpose which is to bless people and to connect with them.

The reality is that a coffee morning with two people who are spoken with and valued is more effective than one with two hundred people who are ignored.

So, do the projects in your church give life to people or are people simply being used as fuel to keep those projects going?

If we realize that we are not valuing people more than projects, how could things change?

Ironically, it’s the projects and the programmes that wear people out in over busy churches.

What would it look like if we really put people before projects?

Instead of needing to manufacture meetings and events to facilitate relationships, we could make loving Jesus and one another central and just see what happened? This wouldn’t necessarily mean that we wouldn’t run any programmes but it would mean that we could keep focused on what we are really should be all about.

Posted in Everyone is valuable, Faith, God loves us, Loving one another, Treat one another the way you want to be treated, Who am I | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

As I prayed for you, I saw a picture …

As I prayed, I saw a picture of a child peering around a door. I felt that I should tell the person I was praying for but I was unsure because it sounded such an odd thing to say and this was to someone I didn’t even know and so I couldn’t guess how he would react.

Anyway, I plucked up the courage and simply said ‘as I prayed for you, I saw a picture of a child peering around a door’.

As I finished speaking the person who I was praying for started to grin and he said ‘WOW’. God spoke to him in that moment and it was clearly significant, but I was challenged by the fact that I had nearly not saying anything.

Are we willing to take risks in following Jesus or do we just want to play it safe?

One of the things that helps me with the prophetic (speaking out what we believe that God is saying) is to use the words ‘as I prayed, this is what I thought/saw’. These words give someone the freedom to discern whether God is speaking or not for themselves and they are also a confession that I am not perfect and that I don’t get everything right.

What will we do if we believe that God is speaking to us so that we can share his words with others? Will we share it with them? Perhaps the phrase ‘this is what I thought/saw as I prayed for you’ can help us?

One of the things that I have been trying to do is to say something like ‘that reminds me of something that Jesus said’ if it seems appropriate in a conversation with people who don’t know Jesus yet. As I have done this, the thing I have talked about the most is Jesus calming the storm with the words ‘peace be still’. As I speak with people who are stressed or afraid of what lies ahead, I have told the story and have encouraged them to hear the words of Jesus, ‘peace be still’ speaking to the storms and stresses in their minds and circumstances.

These God moments are so precious but I feel challenged to find the courage to be open to sharing prophetically with people who don’t know Jesus yet using the ‘as I prayed for you, I saw/thought …’ approach. There is a risk involved in this but there are also huge potential spiritual breakthroughs as well. The prophetic isn’t something you can manufacture, so this approach is completely God dependent and it is about us as his followers being willing to obey him and to take a chance.

So, are we willing to take risks in following Jesus or do we just want to play it safe?

Posted in Faith, God is with us, Life experiences, Listening to God, Miracles, Prayer, Relationship with God | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is this person holding on or climbing up?

I was thinking about this image juts now and so decided to reshare

Honest about my faith

holding on or cimbing up picWould you say that this person holding on or climbing up?

When life is hard we can feel like we are clinging on but in better times we might feel like we are making good progress.

How’s life for you?

Are you barely holding on or are you climbing up and moving on?

In Psalm 63, David prays to God;

‘I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.’

In his desperation, David clung to God as everything fell apart around him but he also recognized that God was holding him securely as well.

You see, someone who is hanging on can be helped up by someone who is willing to reach out and who has the strength to help.

With God all things are possible and he longs for us to reach out to him whether it feels like we are clinging on for dear life or that we just want…

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Dining with Jesus

It took me by surprise when she said ‘it’s better than dining with the queen!’

We were about to share communion together and there had been an opportunity for people to discuss in groups what communion meant to them. We heard some really interesting and thought-provoking comments but the one that spoke to me the most was this one.

‘Communion is dining with Jesus and sharing it is even better than dining with the Queen’.

I have shared and led communion hundreds of times but in that moment it dawned on me that my understanding of communion was flawed and incomplete.

I had always celebrated communion as something that was about Christ rather than it being about sharing a meal with Christ.

This is more than ironic because one of things that I talk about more than anything else is that ‘God is with us!’

Communion isn’t just a memorial meal, it is an opportunity to share bread and wine with the King of Kings who became human and sacrificed his life on the cross.

Through communion, we remember Jesus’ sacrifice but we also celebrate that we can be with him forever because of his sacrifice 😀

Because we approached communion in an interactive and inclusive way, I discovered a new emphasis that is meaningful to me. This is one of the many reasons that I believe that church should be interactive rather than one person at the front who is supposed to know everything.

What does communion mean to you? Feel free to share any comments below.

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Happy Anniversary: Something Worth Celebrating

Twenty five years ago today, the large hall at Orchard Baptist Church was officially opened. The church had grown so much that the original chapel wasn’t large enough to hold everyone on a Sunday and so the decision was made to build a larger hall.

The faith of the church at the time was incredible even to the point that some of the members put a share in their homes up as security for the loan that was needed for the building work.

The vision of the church was to create a space that could be used for the growing numbers on a Sunday but that could also be used during the week for various activities including community use.

This wasn’t to be a sacred space reserved just for God’s people, rather it was intended to be a place full of the presence of God where all were welcomed. It was not designed to be like the Old Testament temple where only the few were allowed to meet with God, it was modeled on Jesus who welcomed everyone in order that he could open the way for them to know God.

On Sunday we celebrated the goodness of God and we gave thanks for the faith of the church of 25 years ago that has blessed us and the community with this wonderful facility.

One of our newest members who has only been with us a few months decorated and she created these amazing balloon columns and some delicious cake. 🙂

The plaque that commemorates the opening of the building extension says:

‘The Lord is faithful to all his promises
and loving towards all he has made’

‘This building was opened and dedicated
to the Glory of God 26 September 1992’

Over the years, the building has glorified God! It stands as testament to his faithfulness and using it in a multipurpose way helps to show the surrounding community that God loves them. Ironically some churches think that they honour God by reserving their buildings juts for religious activity but I think that this is the opposite of what Jesus wants.

Today, Orchard Baptist Church (the church formerly known as Blackheath Baptist Church) is building spiritually upon the blessing and foundation laid by those who came before us. We give thanks for their faith and all they have given us but we are also looking to God to lead us into all that he has for us in the future rather than just assuming that things will always remain the same.

Some things to consider:

Looking back, who can you give thanks for? Who made a difference in the past to make your life better today?

How can we make decisions as churches that aren’t just about our needs, but rather are also about the needs of the community that we area a part of?

What legacy are we leaving? How are we making the world a better place for those who follow us?

How can we honour and be grateful for the blessings from the past whilst being open to change in the future.

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I’m So Proud

Tonight I am going to watch my son perform in the final of local Band Wars competition and I couldn’t be prouder.

My son and his friends made it through the heats and because of their excellent performances and they are now deservedly in the final.

As a dad, I want to support my children in anything they do but what makes supporting my son easier tonight is that he is a really, and I mean really talented musician.

When we turn to him, God adopts us into his family and we become his children.

God cheers for and supports us because he loves us but there are also moments when he celebrates with us when we do well or acheive something.

It’s an amazing feeling seeing someone who we care about achieves something amazing or that we know that they found difficult.

God’s love for us is everlasting and unconditional but God loves it when we find fulfillment and when he sees us grow and change.

Do you know you are loved by God?

What have you done recently to make God proud?

If your instinct is to say nothing, then I would encourage you to think about it some more and even ask someone who knows you well and I think you will be surprised. If God is at work in you then there is a good chance you have made him proud in some way.

However my son performs tonight, I will be cheering him on.

However we perform today, God our father cheers us on and I hope that we can live in such a way that we make him proud.

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Looking for God Moments

When we serve God and create our own definition of success, it can lead to us feeling we have failed when we should be celebrating the amazing things that God is doing!

Last week, I spent a few days at the Breakout Pioneer Gathering which was an encouraging and inspirational time! (Pioneers are people who are trying to work in new and creative ways to help people who don’t know Jesus yet to have opportunities to connect with him).

It is so helpful to have time to stop and think and as a result of having some space by being at the gathering, I stopped worrying about something that I didn’t know was even troubling me. Better than that, I even began celebrating something I had been discouraged about.

At Orchard Baptist we have been encouraged by lots of new people joining the church in the past year. Because of the relaxed, down to earth and creative way we do church, some of those people are reconnecting with church life or their faith. Orchard is becoming a home where people can explore what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the 21st Century and this is very encouraging.

Despite this growth, I have been discouraged because we haven’t had many people who are new to the Christian faith.

One of the things that I remembered and re learnt at the Breakout Gathering is that God is at work in everyone’s life in different ways. It’s natural to want to celebrate someone coming to know and follow Jesus because they have discovered hope and life. Alongside this though, we also need to celebrate when we see God at work in the lives of people who are on their way towards him

In the past year, we haven’t seen many new Christians but we have seen many, many, and I mean many God moments.

One of the things that I have been intentionally trying to do is to say something like ‘that reminds me of something that Jesus said’ if it seems appropriate in a conversation. As I have done this, the thing I have talked about the most is Jesus calming the storm with the words ‘peace be still’. As I speak with people who are stressed or afraid of what lies ahead, I have told the story and have encouraged them to hear the words of Jesus, ‘peace be still’ speaking to the storms and stresses in their minds and circumstances. None of these people have become Christians that I am aware of but the have all had God moments as they have been given the chance to encounter Jesus and to receive his peace.

How about you? How do you measure your success in sharing the good news?

If we look for, join in with and celebrate God moments in the lives of people who don’t know Jesus yet then we will realize that we have so much to celebrate.

Posted in Being honest about our faith, Blessed to be a blessing, Faith, Following Jesus, Learning, Life experiences, Life in all it's fullness, Not ashamed of Jesus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Growth Is Happening Even When We Can’t See It

Jesus said that the Kingdom of God is like a tree that is growing, so why do we expect everything to happen so quickly? I mean, have you ever stood and watched a tree grow? Growth is evident over time but in the moment, trees and plants just look like nothing is happening.

Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” Mark 4.30-32

A tree is constantly growing even if we can’t see it and it’s encouraging to be reminded that the Kingdom of God is growing constantly even if we can’t see it.

Are you frustrated by slow spiritual growth in yourself and others?

How can we learn to look for and to celebrate what God is doing even when things aren’t happening as quickly as we would like?

How can we help create the right conditions for spiritual growth?

Trees grow towards the light!
Are we looking to and trying to become more like Jesus, the light of the world?

Trees need strong roots to grow.
Are we rooted in God and his love or are we drawing our nutrition and resources from other places.

Trees need water to grow.
Are we open to receiving the living water of Holy Spirit and the refreshing and life that he will bring into our lives?

Sometimes we are clearly surrounded by Gods presence, life and vitality but at other times it feels like God’s presence is far away. In these moments of disappointment, will we give in to despair or will we give thanks that the Kingdom of God is growing (even if we can’t see it!) and do what we can to make a difference. We can pray and remind people that God is there and we can pray some more.

I hope that we will never come to believe that God CAN’T change something!

Thank you God that your Kingdom is growing constantly even when we can’t see it.
Please, help us to look for and to celebrate what you are doing instead of complaining that nothing is happening because it doesn’t appear dramatic enough.
Help us to work with you to become the people who you call us to be.

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An Unexpected Visitor

Several weeks ago we discovered that we had a mouse in the house and so we bought some mouse poison which the mouse ate and so we assumed that was the end of him.

In the intervening weeks various people in the family had, ‘I’m sure there is still a mouse in our house’ moments.

Tracey was sure she had seen it a few times and some of the children thought that they heard it scratching around but I was a lot more skeptical having neither seen or heard it.

We knew that the mouse had been living in our piano as a patch of the floor underneath had been covered with mouse droppings. We had cleared up and they hadn’t reappeared over the course of a few weeks and so as far as I was concerned, the evidence pointed to us being a mouse free house :).

Then the night came when everything changed! Tracey and I were watching TV and suddenly the mouse appeared and walked behind the TV cabinet.

We blocked the routes out from behind the cabinet, called our teenagers, armed ourselves with some fishing nets and an old hamster cage and then we were ready to pounce.

Because the mouse was in a confined space it was actually fairly easy to capture it in one of the nets. We then got him into the hamster cage and took him to some nearby woodland to release him.  (I’ve included some video footage of the moment of his release which I have posted below).

A day or two after this and I was talking with someone about moments when we feel that God is far away or not there.

God’s presence can feel a lot like having a mouse in your house. Even when the majority of the evidence pointed to the mouse not being there, he still was.

God is with us always, but sometimes we forget he is there. I think this is why Jesus said ‘where 2 or 3 of are gathered in my name, I am in the midst’. I don’t think he meant that if there is enough of us then he will turn up, rather I think he was saying ‘when you talk among yourself as my followers, don’t forget I am in the midst’.

God is ever present and so when we can’t feel his presence he is actually still there. In these moments, we need to learn to focus on him and to look for signs of his presence.

In my experience, it is often when I am overwhelmed with other things that I can’t feel God with me. When I remember what God has done and focus on him afresh though he can then help with what I am feeling.

God is ever present! How can we be more focused on him?

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