Stewarding, Strife and Smiles

stewardingSpending a week stewarding was a rather interesting experience. Armed with hi-vis jackets, smiles and hand waving gestures to move people into their seats proved to bring out the best and worst in people.

It was an interesting exercise in watching how people react when you tell them what to do or where to sit.

You think that being at a Christian conference everything should be sweet and fluffy like marshmallows with cinnamon sprinkled on top. But our hearts are deceptive. And the sinful nature wages war in our souls.

When our comfort and desires are threatened by a first world problem of sitting in a seat that wasn’t our first choice it can cause great sparks and grumbling. Annoyance flares up and as a steward trying to help people get to their seats it was somewhat disheartening to see people angry at you because they are not sitting in the seat of their choosing. (However there were some with good reasons to want to sit somewhere else: bad neck, back etc)

But I am no innocent party here. My heart began dripping with frustration as people ignored and muttered as they filed into their seats. It was hard not to get angry and not to shout.

I noticed how I wanted control and was annoyed when people didn’t listen. As I reflect on this now i’ve observed that our hearts love comfort and control.

We like to be comfortably in control and in control of our comfort.

Anything that threatens this brings out a nasty side of us. It’s heart issue, deep down we want our own way, we want our comfort and we will do our utmost to preserve these two things because we love ourselves.

There were other people who were a delight. Smiles and nods. Going where they were asked without a problem. They were easier to love. They were a joy to serve.

Again my heart deceives me. It’s easy to love the lovable. It’s easy to serve the joyful ones. It was harder to love the grumblers and mumbles. It was harder to smile at the frowns and frustrations. Isn’t that true of life? We place people on a scale of how worthy they are to be served and loved? If they are low on that scale then we scorn and our serving is sour at best and extinct at worst. But if they are charming and pleasant then we will bend over backwards because they are deserving.

Jesus calls us to love our enemies. But these people aren’t my enemies. They are brothers and sisters and yet I have placed them on a scale of how deserving they are of my love and service. The heart is a crooked device!

It is odd that such a first world problem of where people sit could bring about these reflections. Because in reality who cares where you sit? In the grand scheme of life and eternity it doesn’t matter whether someone got the seat they wanted or whether they sat in the seat I told them to. It is just curious that our and most certainly my heart should react in these strange ways.

I am so glad that Jesus has a pure heart and loved the despised and unlovely. He loved his enemies and all those undeserving. He did not hold on to his comfort but gladly gave it up.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV)

6 Questions for Christian Leaders

communityRecently I have been thinking about what it means to be a good leader. There are many good books about leadership, lots about vision and authority. We need those books to motivate us. But I was thinking the other day about the weak things of leadership that God works through, the humble things, the things that people don’t always see. I have been thinking about my time as a leader in doing student work and I have gathered some of my thoughts together onto this blog post. I am going to ask 6 questions. Mostly asking 6 questions of myself, but I hope it will help you too.

1. Are you on your knees in prayer?

Leaders who don’t think they need to pray are probably not leading well. When I don’t pray I know I am not leading well and I am consumed with the worries of the world.

Prayer is the Christians vital breath. If you are a leader of CU or small group then the best place you can be is daily on your knees in prayer. Pray for your committee, for the CU, for your small group, for your church and for yourself. When you feel discouraged, sad, unmotivated then come and prayer to our Father who knows we are weary and can fill us with His Spirit. Come to the throne room of God and seek the Father through His Son, come and enjoy Him, come and cast your anxieties on him, come and rejoice when things are going well, come and weep into his bosom when things are hard. As a leader why would you not settle your gaze on Christ through prayer? There is no better place to be. You don’t always have to pray on your own, although its good for your soul if you do spend some time doing that. But prayer in community is encouraging. So come and bid for others to join you.

2. Do you weep for the lost and the broken?

I was astounded when looking at Acts 20:17-38 about how much Paul cries. Paul is filled with tears, tears through sharing the Gospel, tears through correcting others, tears over other Christians and churches. Paul weeps. As leaders we can be full of tears. As leaders we can weep over the lost and the broken. A few times I have seen an elder in my church stand up and through tears he speaks about the Gospel or speaks about the lost. Its powerful. It shows great sincerity and shows what you care for from the heart. Are you a leader that weeps for the lost? Imagine if you stood up in front of your friends and had tears in your eyes because your coursemates don’t know Jesus. Or because your friend is suffering. I want to be a leader who isn’t afraid to cry.

3. Do you admit you are weak?

Most the time as leaders we think we have to be strong all the time. We feel like we have to live up to expectations that are just not realistic and if we carry on with this superman approach we will just burn out. Leaders need to admit their weak, they need to admit that they get weary and they need rest. When as leaders we admit that we are weak then we will rely on God more, we will allow him to minister to our hearts, we will come to him in humbleness and weakness, we will be far more patient with those around us who are weak also. Remember Moses was weak and the Lord used him. Don’t be afraid to show your weakness or that you are dependant. The world tells us that we should be individual, but we know that as Christians we are utterly dependant on Jesus and on each other (the church).

4. Do you tell the Gospel to yourself daily?

Whats the first thing we mreading-bibleust do with the Gospel? Believe it. Daily we need to minister the Gospel to ourselves. We have to get into scripture and read about Jesus. We are a forgetful people and it’s the reminder of what Jesus has done for us and who we are in Christ that will warm and remind our hearts again. Do you tell yourself the good news of Jesus Christ everyday? Do you joyfully seek read the scriptures and drink deeply from the well of God? When the devil tells you lies, do you tell yourself the truth? You need to. As a leader you need to tell the Gospel to yourself.

5. Do you have a friend telling you the Gospel daily?

Church community is so important. We need to tell each other the Gospel daily. As a leader you will spend most your time pouring out all you have and its easy to get proud or discouraged. So you need to have other Christians telling you about Jesus. Do you have friends pointing you to the cross? You need them. You need honest friends who won’t be afraid to rebuke you and then minister the balm of the Gospel to your wounds. Do you have a friend telling you the Gospel daily? I have a group of friends that do this and I need them to do that for my sanity and growth in Jesus. Find friends who wont flatter you, but will be honest and speak of Christ to you.

6. Do you care about numbers or people?

It’s tempting to mark your success by numbers. I get sucked into this often. If your success is based on the number of people coming to events or the number of people who you have shared the Gospel with then you will be discouraged quickly. Let your ministry not be about numbers. Let it be about people. Who cares how many people came to an event? Lets work with who came and minister to them. Lets love people not numbers. Your ministry will be more enjoyable.

Those are just some of my thoughts. I know there are probably lots more and there are loads I have missed out on. But these are the things I have been thinking about. I would love to hear what you think and any more questions you would add to this!

Winning Hearts for Christ

heartbeatI woke up this morning with a cold heart. Post mission week blues. I couldn’t bring myself to do much and so I put on some talks because a friend (Emily) said I should listen to this guy John Hindley. After listening to two of the talks I found my heart warmed again as he spoke about Christ. He not only reminded my of the love of Christ but that Christ is The Truth and sin is a result of not loving Jesus.

So if you are feeling weary, cold, distant and rubbish. Come and listen to these talks. Just listen and allow your heart to be won to Christ again.

Winning hearts to Christ Part 1a and 1b

Part 2 – The truth is a person

Part 3 – Preaching to the heart

Part 4 – Beauty wins the heart

Christian Leadership

Mnextleadersichael Green who is an author and evangelist did an interview two years ago about Christian leadership. He shares some of his story in this and encourages the next generation to be bold and take risks. Do take time to listen to the interview, it is rather inspiring.

We have much to learn from our older generation, they have much wisdom to teach us. And here are just a few things that Michael Green says about the marks of a Christian leader.

Firstly a leader is born, not made. It’s in their DNA! When looking for CU leaders we are looking for people who can lead, that can set an example and shine, that can gather people around them and set the vision. But leaders don’t have to be loud or in your face, instead there needs to be:

1. Servant Leadership: Not pushing people around but instead serve them. Being the first to serve, the first to put the towel around the waist and wash others feet. Often we see leadership as the one sthat makes all the decisions, the one with authority and in charge. But actually good leadership is the serving kind. The one that puts others before yourself, the one who loves first and forgives quickly.

I know people who get upset that they are not leaders, students that didn’t make committee or people who didn’t make elders. They think their ideas are better and they are better than those who are in leadership. But perhaps there is something to learn here, to humble yourself and to serve others without complaining will show greater marks of leadership than those who complain and speak louder than others.

2. Balance: Not pushing one theology or agenda over another. But keeping a balance. If you focus on one and go too far that way then it sets the agenda for everything you do which could distort your ministry and scripture. The point I think he is making is that there needs to be a balance, a balance of evangelism and feeding the poor, a balance of caring for widows and youth work. Not straying into one area and forgetting another. He says he prays for balance every day.

3. Risk: Be prepared to make mistakes. It’s ok to fail. It’s ok to be weak. Christians are weak and they fail often. A leader doesn’t hide away from opportunities because they are afraid to fail. A leader takes a opportunity, gives it a go and then if they fall over they will be picked up again and carry on. CU Leaders need to take risk and have space to fail – putting too much pressure on them to get it right first time seems very ungracious.

4.Shared: Your team has gifts and they need to share in your leadership. It’s very easy to think you can do it all and do it all by yourself. But a mark of a good leader is one that can share their leadership with others. They need to give opportunities to others to learn how to lead and to use their gifts.

Lastly nobody should minister without being ministered to. They need to be looked after. Get a mentor or get someone who will be honest with you. As a leader you need to be accountable to someone, you need honest conversations, you need to be cared for before you care for others so that you don’t burn out.

Obviously there are probably more areas, more areas of character for sure. But these are just a few that Michael Green spoke about which I found helpful.

Uncover Gospel Project Launch

Last night Plymouth CU uncovered some evidence…something that will change lives and they will be giving this evidence to their friends. The CU launched their Uncover Gospel project where they:

  • Pray for 3 friends,
  • Give the Gospel to 3 friends and
  • Read the Gospel with 3 friends.

It was a great and creative launch night, we had a lot of fun with Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple appearing. It seemed like people were up for doing this project. Lets pray that they do! Here are some pictures of the night:

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Fears in Freshers week

I have just spent the week helping the CU run events in freshers week. It made me think back to my freshers week and how glad I am that I am not a fresher anymore. I really hate that new feeling you have, where you are driving up to the Uni and all you are thinking about is whether you are going to like this experience, whether anyone will like you or will you like anyone. What happens if it’s a disaster and you end up with no friends? That was probably my biggest fear. Even though looking back now it seemed rather a silly fear! The other thing you think about is who you are and who you are going to be. In that first week you could be anyone you wanted to be, you could make up a mask of a new identity and no one would know that’s not the real you. (Even though they may eventually find out). Those are the two biggest fears I had when arriving at Uni – Will I make any friends and Who am I going to be and will anyone like me?

I guess those two fears are all about how I relate to people and how they relate back to me. I was on the edge of Christianity, ready to leave God behind and pursue the University Experience. I had only become a Christian a few months back and those first few months were like a storm ready to swallow me up and I had enough of this God. So who was I going to be? A Christian? A social butterfly that never has an empty glass? A hermit striving for good grades? I think I tried all of those things in freshers week – I went to parties, stayed up till 4am, drank a bit too much and then confessed I was a Christian but I wasn’t really sure what that meant. I made friends with people who knew how to party well and I hung out with them. I hang out with the computer scientists that could programme anything in seconds (where I would stare blankly at the screen and tried to figure out what all those brackets meant)… The fear of not having any friends subsided, I could make friends with people that wasnt the issue anymore. But this identity thing and the constant question of Who am I? was bothering me. It wasn’t until I was taken to the CU meeting that I met some Christians who loved Jesus and I heard the Gospel that the penny dropped. I was looking for my identity in the wrong places and it was making me miserable. Over the weeks I understood the Gospel more and what it meant to be a Christian and I saw that my identity is in Christ. Which gives a sigh of relief. It also gave me such great freedom to still hang out with  my mates that liked to party hard and those that like to sit in front of the PC creating programmes for NASA… (maybe not NASA?)… But soon my fears of friendship and identity soon faded and I found my place. There were times I forgot my identity, but at some point I was reminded who I was and that I was loved.

All these freshers I see are probably thinking and doing the same. They have fears and expectations and are striving to fit in and find their identity. I hope at some point they meet a Christian and hear about Jesus, so that like me they may find their identity can be in Christ whom gives great freedom to us. For the CU that’s what this week was about – sharing Jesus with Freshers who are lost, confused and sure of themselves. Do pray with us that these freshers meet Jesus.

UCCF Forum 2012

Forum 2012 has been and gone and it was a brilliant week. There was also a huge suprise of having sunshine, I actually got sunburnt! No rain meant people were happier and the place just felt different to other years. So I will now share with you my highlights from Forum 2012. Also I did some talks on a track called Mission with the relational God, which you can check out here.

So some highlights:

1. Sun Sun Sun. No rain, no wellies, no getting wet but just sunburn. Wonderful.

2. Some of my favourite talks were from Jason Clarke, Mike Pilavachi and Lindsay Brown! I enjoyed being encouraged and challenged and reminded of the Gospel!

3. Hearing repentance from a leader on stage and for us to show grace – thats the Gospel.

4. Eating with students at lunchtime was great fun. It was really encouraging hearing what they had been learning during the week and how they want to see the campus reached with the Gospel!

5. Eating with staff – sharing a whole bag of pasta and laughing a lot with Ali and Emily. Great to have friends like these!

6. Creating an international cafe for students. Both Ali and I were wearing hats and welcoming them into the cafe, some looked scared and slightly amused. Hopefully they got the point!!

7. Doing an interview with Glen Scrivener in my talk.

Those are just some of my highlights. What are yours?

 

How to enjoy Relay Homestart

Around this time a few years ago I was getting ready to go on my next adventure by doing Relay Homestart in Peru. I know all the feelings of being excited, nervous, unsure, insecure, scared, happy, sad to leave friends etc… with a million emotions all in one I knew I would be boarding that plane soon with no language skills and no real understanding of what it means to live in a different culture and really no idea of what I was really doing. So as I am guessing that some of you will be feeling these things at some point, I want to write a quick guide on how to enjoy and make the most of Relay Homestart and also short term mission – whether that’s in Europe or China or South America…

  1. Pray and continue praying – this may sound like a given. But we are sinful creatures that like to draw upon Gods help at the start and then when we get use to the culture and the language, suddenly God can be out the picture. Don’t be complacent, continue praying and bring everything to God
  2. Don’t expect it to be like Relay – On Relay you had amazing support every week, you had theology to read, students to meet up with and conferences to build fellowship. But its all different on homestart, don’t expect it to be like Relay at all – you may not get weekly support and it will take you a while before you can speak the language enough to be able to meet up with students one to one. This wont be like fitting on a glove. You are not the star relay worker in your university spouting Grace and Grudem. Your the foreigner that cant speak the language. But there are lots of advantages for it not being like Relay and you will find them out.
  3. Jump into the culture – The Culture your going into is different and can seem scary and you may get culture shock. The only way I dealt with this is by not shutting myself away but being apart of the lives of others in the culture. I was living with a family and so I joined in on everything the family was doing – watching TV with them, going to church events, going shopping with them etc…although I couldn’t speak Spanish, my actions and my time shared with them proved to be shouting louder then words. So join a youth group or prayer group, join in with a family, be with different people and don’t just hang out with English speaking people. Also try and eat everything or at least a bite – it shows your willing to try things.

  4. Don’t live on Facebook – Its very tempting to hide yourself away on facebook everyday. My suggestion is to not touch facebook for the first month – your friends will understand. Its more important that you get to know people where you are living then keep updated on the facebook feed. Your relationships where you are will be better off.

  5. Enjoy the Differences – everything will be different – smells, food, people, clothes… but don’t be cynical – its easy to believe that the English culture is always right, but you will see that its not and there is so much to learn in the differences. At times it will be frustrating, but as much as you can enjoy the differences – don’t complain about them to other people, but let your words be encouraging and pure.

  6. Your Identity is in Jesus – This is a huge lesson I learned. It is very easy to place your worth and Identity in everything but Jesus. You will want to place it in your language skills or how many one to ones you have or what you are doing compared to everyone else. But quickly you will see that when you place your worth in those things you will fall apart because they will not stand up – your language will fail, you will find yourself at times doing nothing or not knowing what to do! But Jesus will always remain and if your identity is in Him you will not fall and he will never fail you. Ever.

  7. Don’t expect to stay in touch with everyone – Some people are good at keeping in touch, some are not. Some will be annoyed that you are not emailing them everyday. The truth is, is that you wont have time to be keeping in touch with everyone and that’s a reality that you will have to not feel guilty about.

  8. Read your bible – Keep yourself in the word even if you don’t have a routine. You will find that church wont be a place where you can get either teaching you understand or teaching that’s going to feed you. But the Word of God will feed you. Keep in his word, enjoy His word, Delight in his Word, Weep over His Word and Rejoice that you have the Word of God in your hands.

  9. Be prepared for crazy emotions – At times you will find yourself so happy your skipping down the road and then the next moment you are crying. You will feel alone and then very loved. This is normal, so don’t worry. But remember your emotions are not reliable – but God is. Your emotions go up and down but God stays the same. God is still God. That is a good truth to hold on to. Don’t be subject to your emotions, but know that God uses you in your weakness and when you are alone, you are actually very close to Jesus.

  10. Love – Love the people, love the fruit lady, love your team mates, love other missionaries, love the crazy drunk man on the street, love the unlovable, love Jesus and do everything in Love. And enjoy every moment.

JPOD Staff Worker Version 2.5

Not long ago I read JPOD by Dougles Coupland, which I really enjoyed probably because I spent a year in IT support at University and can relate to the randomness of this book and at heart I am a geek! During the book there are pages full of random quotes and sentences that just add to the surreal life of Ethan and his JPOD companions. How far from reality is JPOD? Probably not that far off, although no one seems to sleep and they go on random trips to China (which hasn’t happened to me yet). But perhaps in the fiction there is a base of reality that highlights the mundane and splashes it across absurdity. So it occurred to me that for fun I could write my own page of JPOD but relating to being a UCCF Staff Worker. And of course it is meant to be weird and not taken seriously.

STAFF WORKER version 2.5
Year 3 upgrade
Please press any key to continue..
FILTER COFFEE GOSPEL and a muffin.
“Come and have Breakfast”
Fish and Chips after death.
Freedom. Gospel. Grace. Love.
Are you a miserable Christian?
I Blog. I Think. I Drink...
Mac books are in Heaven?
I wear Fat Face. I am not Face Face. Face Fat. Book
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I Create. I Dream. I Believe.
That is a good question…………………………………………………………..?
We have ink on our faces.
TRINITY. LOVE THE CHURCH.
It is good to be a Christian. 
JOY. PRAYER. LOVE
South West Team. Soup.Fellowship
Welcome to Exeter. Plymouth. Falmouth. Bristol. Bath
3:16.8:1.2:20.5:1. Genesis. ADAM. CHRIST. APPLE. CROSS. FREE
Snapshot of Cross Culture.
My morning drink is Exodus with a sprinkle of Romans.()()(()()()()()()()()()()

Living for Jesus. Speaking for Jesus.

 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Houseparty. 3 Block. Seminar. Ear Plugs.
Diving into the Gospel. Team Days. CAKE!
Forum. Tents…with a splash of sunshine please?
Reforming the heart. EDWARDS. OWEN.
Jesus is beautiful.

 

Lets have beautiful feet. 
            Feet need to walk and share good news. 
                    Good news needs to be in our hearts. 
                              Our hearts need to know Christ. 
                                                       CHRIST IS ALL.
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####RELAY. Run the Race. Drink the coffee. Open the bible.#####

 

iblog, iread, idream, iknownothing.
  • Relationships. Tears. Goodbyes. New pages. Chapters unfold.
  • Be creative.
  • Don’t wear socks and sandals.
  • Do Enjoy.
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ALT, CTRL, DEL. 
ESC.
STANDBY until HE Returns.
+++++OUT OF CHEESE ERROR+++++