Tag Archive: advice

a sense of loss

My colleague and close friend Carl Taylor, founder and visionary of Faith Hope and Enterprise, died earlier this month.

Carl was a quite remarkable man. Someone of whom, in my estimation, the world was not worthy.

His compassion for the poor and his commitment to helping people turn their lives around against the odds was absolute. He enabled people to overcome abusive childhoods, mental health illness, learning disabilities, addictions and their past offending behaviour to find a meaningful place in society. He worked for the benefit of others at tremendous cost to himself.

Even in hospital, in the last week of his life, he would talk to me about the future of the company and the people we currently work with. He never once switched off.

He was the kind of man who said it the way he saw it. He could be uncompromising and intimidating. He was honest. He lived out the call of God on his life for the whole of his life. In the last days we remembered God’s promises to “make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope” (Hosea 2:15), “to proclaim good news to the poor…to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Isaiah 61:1,2).

We remembered the promise of Jesus to the man next to him on the cross, “today you will be with me in paradise,” (Luke 23:43). I know that Carl has also heard the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

Friendships like ours don’t happen very often in life. We were open hearted with each other, we shared common values and purpose, we felt that God had brought us together for a reason and we pursued that vision with everything we had.

I will miss him. I will miss his warmth and his love. I will miss his humour and his clarity of thought. I will miss his wisdom and understanding.

Carl leaves an amazing legacy in the lives of the many people that he supported and the many different projects and enterprises that he was involved with. His vision continues and his ministry lives on.

Well done, my friend.

living like mario

My children appear to have re-discovered the joy of Mario.  Watching them play is hugely entertaining – it’s a very addictive game and they care very much about doing well.  Of course, I sit there offering advice, giving them useful hints and tips which they totally ignore for one very good reason: I am absolutely hopeless when it comes to actually playing.

The thing with Mario is this: you learn all about how to do it as you play.  Along the way you learn the skills and tactics that you need to complete subsequent levels.  You gain the knowledge that helps you progress through increasingly difficult scenarios until you reach the end.

So when I try to join them on any given level, I am completely useless because I have never mastered the basics.

Now the bible describes life as a walk.  How you live is how you walk.  And our walk has something in common with Mario.  It’s about learning lessons.

I have over forty years experience and observation of walking behind me and I’ve noticed something very simple.  You tend to face the same challenges over and over again.  If you’ve faced them before and learned how to deal with them, you face them again in a slightly more challenging way.  I think that’s how God prepares us for greater things.

And if you don’t learn how to deal with them, you just keep facing the same issues, maybe blaming other people and circumstances for all that’s happened rather than looking at yourself and asking, “What can I learn from this?  What can I do differently?”

Viewing life in this way also helps us to understand something else that’s very important.  Not everyone has been playing the game as long as we have.  When other Christians struggle and get things wrong we need to be there to help and restore them – not simply point out their mistakes.  “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently,” Galatians 6:1.

I don’t think I’ll spend enough time over Christmas to complete Mario but I will be spending time reflecting on the events of this year and asking myself, “What has God been teaching me?  What challenges have I faced and what understanding have I gained?”  Because I want to achieve greater things for God than I have managed so far, not get stuck where I am.

reading the road signs

My dad taught me to drive – the whole thing.  From endless trips up and down an old airfield with kangaroo petrol to regular trips out on the road.

One evening we were on an unfamiliar road and I was driving very quickly around a slow left hand bend when I suddenly saw a railway crossing just ahead of us.  I had to brake very, very hard.  My dad, sitting in  the passenger seat seemingly as cool as a cucumber, just smiled.  “I didn’t think you’d seen the signs,” he said. 

He was always on at me to read the signs.  In the end, he got fed up saying it and opted to let me learn from the consequences of my mistakes.  A brave strategy I think.  But I did start paying more attention to the signs from then on.

At the beginning of July I started to see some different kinds of signs.  Following my poor health last year I have become very aware of when I am beginning to feel unwell.  Mental health is a strange thing and I presume that everyone is different but for me extreme tiredness which included unexpected sleep, a loss of concentration and feeling a little low are all indicators that it’s time to slow down and take some time out.  Which is exactly what I’ve done – hence a lack of posts recently.

It seems to have done the trick though.  I return to work tomorrow after a refreshing family holiday and will be posting a little more regularly over the next couple of weeks at least.  Keep in touch!

what’s God saying?

Have you ever wondered what God is saying to you?  I mean, we can think all kinds of things  – some of them can be bizarre – so how do we know when it’s from God? 

Sometimes, God makes it obvious.  Gideon is given a miracle from an angel (Judges 6:17-22).  I have occasionally been in situations when it is unquestionably God who is speaking to me.  They have been the exception though, not the norm.  In thirty years of following Jesus I can probably still recount all the occasions when it’s been that clear. 

More often, I have to go through a process of sifting out my own thoughts and finding God’s way. 

So I reflect on things – is what I am thinking in line with what God has already said in the bible?  Is it right and just, does it show grace and mercy, does it demonstrate love and kindness, is it generous?  Is it obedient?  I will take note of anything I read that is relevant to the situation.

I  think about good advice that I have been given in the past.  I often seek advice before making important decisions. 

The Spirit leads me as I pray, and the way forward often becomes clear. 

I may try to assess how common sense something is.  It’s amazing how often what God says is simple common sense.  But I am aware that sometimes what God says doesn’t seem to make sense – it didn’t make sense to Gideon.

And finally, I think about my circumstances.  I have often found that God hems me in by shaping circumstances around me.

As a number of things come together, I become clear about what God is saying.  Of course, that often doesn’t make such a good story so it doesn’t get told as much.  And maybe that is why we sometimes feel the need for a special sign, writing in the sky, a significant prophecy.  A Gideon moment.  They are wonderful when they happen.  But in my experience, if you wait for a miracle every time you have to make a  decision, you will often decide to do nothing.  And that may not be the best call to make.

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