Tag Archive: Jesus


city centre lifegroups

I’ve been led through a rather radical change of heart in the last couple of years.

I moved to the Peak District because I love the countryside.  I was definitely not a city person.  I still believe that God called me to the beautiful market town in which I live.  And I absolutely love it.  However, I now work predominately in the city of Derby and I serve in a church with a clear vision for the city.  Which makes the city quite central to my life.

So when it became apparent that I could play a part in establishing, growing and multiplying LifeGroups in the city centre I thought it would be a good thing to do.  And having made the decision to do it, I am more excited and enthusiastic about it than I ever would have believed I could be.

Our first group meeting was two weeks ago.  Seven of us met McDonald’s and enthused each other about what God was saying.  Last week twelve of us met in a bar and this week I am confident that more will join us.

There is something really challenging and edgy about this group.  It’s very different from a traditional small group based in a home.  Meeting in bars and coffee shops automatically gives a feel of being friends together.  Every meeting is a social.  And meeting in public places means that outreach is automatically at the heart of what we are doing.  Talking at normal volume about our faith, our love of God, our walk with Jesus and our desire to see the Spirit move, is challenging and fun.  Praying together is scary and wonderful.

Of course, such groups have to be different from what happens in homes.  We are already discovering that.  Plotting a way forward is huge fun.  My enthusiasm feels boundless.  I long to see more groups of this nature growing out of what we are doing and I am confident that they will.  I am confident that in turn we will have a real impact on the people around us.

What better way to be salt and light than to meet, talk and pray in the very bars and cafe’s where so many others are gathered?

And of course, it is a really simple transition for our alpha guests to make.  Already, several have indicated that they will join the group when the course has finished in order to continue their journey.  Which means that the groups will have people in them who haven’t yet given their lives completely to Jesus but who are being drawn to Him and want to continue their journey of discovery.

It seems to have filled me with life again.  I don’t think our Christian lives should feel “safe” in that sense – I like feeling out there, on the edge, putting myself in places where I am totally reliant on God.  But I can only do that when I am confident that He has called me to do it.  And I am confident that He has called me to do this.

I will let you know how it goes.

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!

rings and relationships

When my dad died at the end of May, he left me a ring he used to wear.  I’m not big on jewellery but I’m wearing my dad’s ring.  It reminds me of him – of the way he loved and raised me.  All that he taught me.  Every day I have his ring on my finger and I remember him.

I also wear a wedding ring.  A daily reminder of my wife and the vows I have made to her.  Of how much I love her and of how she loves me.

Two rings that remind me of the two most significant relationships in my life.

Two rings that also remind me of two powerful images from the bible.  A reminder that God is my father in heaven and that Jesus is a bridegroom in waiting who loves and cherishes His bride.  Two daily reminders that in this life I am loved and that when this life is over, I will be with my God forever.

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.

a royal wedding

Prince William and Kate Middleton We all love a royal wedding don’t we?  And now we have another one to look forward to as Prince William and Kate Middleton announce their plans to marry.

Of course we’re hearing about how “very much in love” the couple are, and the romance of a commoner becoming queen is inescapable.  I genuinely hope it works out well for them. 

But no bride, royal or otherwise, can compare to the church – the Bride of Christ.

No romance can compare with God’s love for His people, with His passionate pursuit of her.  No preparation can compare with ours and no bride will be as pure as the church on the day she is united with Christ.  No story of a rise to royalty compares to ours.  No dowry price is as high as the price paid by Jesus.  No king is greater than Him.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish,” Ephesians 5:25-27.

God’s love for the church is immense, immeasurable.  It has stood through the ages and will stand in eternity.  If we love what God loves, we must love the church.  I want to encourage you to let your life reflect God’s love for the church.  Let your actions and your words honour her.  Do all you can to prepare her for that day.  Be holy.  Be without blemish.  Be passionate for the church and for Jesus.  And be ready, because He is returning for His bride.

 

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