Tag Archive: change


when life changes

stone outcropI had a bit of a moment this weekend. To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we re-visited the hills we had explored when we decided to get married. We even took the same route we had taken all those years ago.

On the hill, overlooking one of my favourite places in the world, I was acutely aware that the most important period of our most important role in life is almost over. Our children have grown up.

Hope has completed her first year at university, Peace is about to leave home for college and Mercy is 17 in a few months time.  It’s not that you ever finish parenting – it’s simply that the role you play in your children’s lives changes and we are entering a new phase.

I was aware too that the most important wish I had for them when they were born was that they would each know and love Jesus for themselves, which they do.  I felt overwhelmed by God’s love and faithfulness across the years.

I am also aware that our marriage is entering a new phase too.  We have been preparing for life without our children at home, talking together about our future – the hopes and desires that we have – and about God’s plans and purposes for us.

It was so good to look out across the hills and vales and know that He has been faithful for so long and that He will continue to be so throughout the years ahead.

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when change happens

It’s one thing to see someone make significant change in their lives, it’s another when they reach out to help someone else do the same. Today, Geordie offered a young homeless man some hope in a desperate situation. Listening to him make the offer just blew me away.

I have known Geordie for a little more than two years. We met when he was in prison, referred to us by an alcohol worker there with whom we had built up a good relationship. He moved into a shared house and began volunteering with the company, quickly able to turn his hand to a number of practical skills that he has continued to develop.

Last year he moved into his own property, which he keeps in exceptional condition.

Other residents listen to him. His understanding and advice has been invaluable, and he is an inspiration to people looking to make the same changes in their own lives that Geordie has made in his. His journey is not yet complete, but he has come a long way and he has hope and confidence for the future. I am looking forward to seeing where that takes him.

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.

leadership

When I had my meltdown in 2009, I was a full-time elder in a local Newfrontiers church.

My time with that church came to an end soon afterwards.  My self-esteem was low, my confidence weak and I had lost courage.  All my effort was being aimed at recovering my health and being able to function again as a husband and father.  It had been a very difficult season.

Some months after the initial breakdown, I was driving down a familiar stretch of road when I sensed God ask me if I would step back into leadership again.  I wasn’t thinking about church or the past – I wasn’t looking forward to the future.  It was totally out of the blue but I had no hesitation.  Yes LORD, I thought.  I would.

Why?  Because I would do anything Jesus asked me to do.  I trust Him to lead me well.  Because my past does not determine my future.  His purposes do.

And because leadership is a gift like any other, and I don’t think that God takes away His gifts once he has given them, it seemed natural that I would be asked to step back up to the plate at some point.

I kept fairly quiet about the experience though.  It would be a long time before it became an issue in any setting other than my own heart.  But I definitely settled something that day, in that moment, and I’m so glad I did.

This week I have been welcomed into the leadership team of Jubilee, my new church.  It is a different model from my previous experience and I have no idea where it will lead.  For now, I am grateful for the love and support I have received there, for the trust that people have placed in me and for the opportunity to serve Jesus and my local church within the gifting He has given me.

It is the next chapter in a wonderful adventure with Jesus.  And I am looking forward to every step!

grief

My dad died at the end of May.  He had a triple heart bypass in April and never got out of critical care.  The funeral was this week.

I guess that everyone is different.  Every relationship is different.  So every grieving process is different too – and while there may be common threads, there is no formula.

I loved my dad.  There are so many happy memories from my childhood.  He was generous and funny and some of his favourite phrases and one liners have made it into family folklore.  He was my best man when I got married.

At the same time he was always busy with his work, impatient and very stubborn.  As I got older, I struggled more with his expectations of our relationship than I ever had before.  Things were strained in the latter years.

Fortunately we managed to keep things going.  The children got to see him in hospital after the operation and I know that he was asking about us all at the very end.

Most happily, I know that he was saved.  He came to know Jesus on an Alpha course I was involved with and he had an amazing picture of the LORD while at the communion rail of his local Methodist church soon afterwards.  He wasn’t afraid to die.

He had, and continues to have, a massive impact on my life.  There was a great deal to admire and love about him.  In so many ways I am like him.  In the coming weeks and months and years I know that I will miss him.

And I know that grief will take its course with me, whatever that may mean.

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