Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Please notice my glasses!....

I figure if I'm going to blog, let's be really real, no matter how embarrassing it may be. So the time had come to get some new glasses. It's been 2 1/2 years since I bought this current pair which were an exact replacement of the pair I'd had previously. They were getting a bit scratched, worn and let's face it were out of date about 4 years ago. But, this isn't just replacing glasses, oh no this was a whole image change, will people recognise me, what will people think? Will this signify a new season in my life, a new era of looking... more grown up? More serious? Seriously I put lots of thought into it. In my head I had this image that somehow needed to be maintained or developed. So I bought them, they are green and much less obvious. Then I wore them..... but it was as if no one noticed. Sure the occasional comment, but don't people realise this is a major change, I need comments, I need compliments, I need so much more. It was as if most people didn't even notice. Note to self and anyone who may read this: you really aren't as important to everyone else as you are to yourself. Most people aren't thinking about what you're wearing, how your hair is cut, so stop worrying about it yourself. It's true isn't it? We spend varying amounts of time wondering and worrying about what people will think about our hair, clothes, car, make up (girls,mostly) all sorts of stuff and the truth is most people don't notice. Now if only Jesus had something about this we'd all be a lot freer wouldn't we? Something about not worrying about what we wear etc. Man he missed a trick there.....

Prayer - pleasure or duty?

The other Sunday around 4pm Josie and I had this discussion around who was going to deeper prayer, which is basically the one prayer meeting our church has each month. To be honest it was one of those polite stand offs where suddenly we both felt a calling to put the kids to bed. In the end I got what felt at the time like the short straw even though deep down my spirit knew it wasn't the short one my soul was convinced of it. I even said to my brother who doesn't believe in God that I was going out of obligation. Those words kind of got stuck in my throat and I felt bad for saying them never mind thinking them. So the question this raises is why is this the case? Fact - I've never come home from a prayer meeting wishing I hadn't gone. Fact - Ive always been glad I've gone at times über glad. You could say ecstatic. Fact - I always feel better for having gone. So if all of that is true, which I know it is, why do I and no doubt many others wrestle with it so much? You would think that if something is that good, it would be a no-brainer, yet still there is a battle. My biggest struggle in my walk with God is moving from that place of duty to pleasure in my prayer life. I so often pray because I should and not because of the sheer joy I experience. I've read the books, listened to the talks, tried all sorts. I guess for now I just have to hope that my spirit wins more times than my soul!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Sacrificial Staff Giving

Wow, quite a day. Our staff for the second year running have blown us away with their generosity, from just 100 people we have over £50K given or pledged towards our growth this year.
I believe that accountability is really important!. For me our staff team is one of the most important groups I am accountable to. If we change our heart, swerve from our vision, lose our passion, they will be the first to spot it and see it. So when they do this,give so much of their own money into the vision and cause of CAP, it tells me that not only are they right behind us, but that God is too!
I prayed this the other day: “I really am quite stunned Lord that our staff would step out once again in such an awesome way. I praise you for it Lord and ask that you truly would repay them” – then I was drawn to read this in Prov 19:17 it says “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, And He will pay back what he has given.” Or in the New King James version it says “He will repay them in full” It struck me how amazing it is that God sees a gift to the poor as a loan to him that he will make sure we get it all back in some way at some time. He is no man’s debtor, and I know that the sacrifice our staff team have made will bring great and positive things back into their lives and that God smiles, positively beams, all over it.


Wed 5th May 2010

I’m not a big fan of feeling weak. Certainly not a big fan of acknowledging any kind of weakness! Strange that the bible says that it’s in our weakness that God’s power can be more clearly seen and experienced. (2Cor12:9)
So last week I had a stomach bug, an evil stomach bug from the pit of hell! Vomit so violent my body bent double as my system tried it’s hardest to rid itself od every last bit of fusili pasta I had for my tea. Now I’ve no problem with that, being sick, it was the fact that it took me like 3 days to recover, still feeling “weal”
This was compounded by having the builders in. Whilst I wasn’t bothered about the noise, it was the fact that every time I saw them they asked “How are you?” Macho men who make their living being hard, and my response was “still feel a bit weak”, ahhh I hate admitting it. So much so I started to fake being better, just so they didn’t think I was too much of a Jessie.
This difficulty in being weak or admitting weakness show actually how much I get my significance from being able, from being capable from being strong (obviously not my biceps but other ways). That I truly do think it’s in some way all about me and my ability. If I think I’m responsible for my weakness then I must also think I’m responsible for my strength? Oh the danger of self sufficiency.
As Josie said the other day I need to learn the weakness lesson quick so God doesn’t have to anything drastic to teach me!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Now that Was a Kingdom Week!

What an amazing week. I had the immense privilege this week of spending time with some of the leaders God is using to help turn his church inside out and make God’s light shine bright in this land.
Wednesday we had an event I organised called Replicate, where I gathered leaders together who are working to replicate their own successful model around the country. Basically just invited people whose ministries revolved around our 3 core values at CAP the poor, the lost and the church.
The first session was perhaps the best as each person shared what they were doing and the sheer energy and passion and God’s heart for broken people just completely filled the room. It was phenomenal, so inspiring. I’d kicked the whole thing off talking about how it’s so important we never see each other as competition. Instead we see ourselves as effectively one organisation but we all represent different departments.
We then had the exec team from Tearfund come to CAP. They came to learn from us – flip me! What a privilege, I think Tearfund is awesome and somehow in God’s grace we’ve got something that might be able to learn from us, and what’s more they did. As we shared how we’ve done what we’ve done, most of it we’ve learnt off others, and you just realise how much God has shown us that is good. To think that we impacted them, which we did is just so humbling.
Finally we finished off the week with a fundraising dinner, one lady shared her story of how her and her husband were so depressed they talked regularly of suicide and how her husband was in fear every time he came home from his night shift scared of what he would find!! But God and CAP have saved them in every way which is awesome. Oh and we raised £43K in the process.
God is good!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

This is church.....

Wow what a fantastic day today was. So much of what I think church should be happened in my life today. The Sunday morning was great, I particularly enjoyed not doing anything, apart from trying to make sure people hadn’t got missed, who need to get into Light Groups. Then after the meeting, we were lunch hosting. A really great thing we do as a church, where you cook for a certain number of people and then frantically go round inviting whoever you can find. So we ended up with a rather cosmopolitan dinner table to say the least. Not a single person who came was British! A Frenchman, a Brazilian, a German who grew up in Brazil and an asylum seeker from Eritrea. Man, I realised again why God calls us to hang out with the oppressed and the poor (which Marcos definitely was) – so that God can humble you and remind you just how flipping blessed your life is.

This guy Marcos from Eritrea was a full on refugee, having seen his parents murdered when he was just 15. He made it all the way to Calais and then got into the country under a truck. He now has full rights to stay. But man you hear a story like that and you just think, again, I don’t know I’m born. What an immense privilege to share a table with someone who has gone through that and to simply show him that he is of such value to God.

I don’t know what you think makes a good church, but for me I had the ultimate compliment today. Jacques, the French guy mentioned above, said he only comes to the Light because it is the sort of church he can bring the homeless and refugees he meets and knows they’ll get a great welcome. Whatever else we build in the Light, I can't think of any greater compliment.

This evening we had our Prayer and Ministry Night at church. It was awesome. Before Chris had started the first song, everyone was off praising God just naturally flowing out of them. An amazing night, the presence of God so tangible it was just brilliant. The highlight being a guy called Darren. Darren has been coming on a Sunday for a few months, and has been on our discipleship course. Tonight as we were praising God I looked over and he had tears running down his face with his hands in the air. I went to pray for him and just asked God to keep doing His stuff. I asked Darren, when he had given his heart to God, his response – I’ve just done it. Wow, he was just blown away by the power of God. It’s been a while since I’ve seen someone so overwhelmed by being forgiven and receiving a fresh start from God. It reminded me not to take my salvation for granted and just how precious it is to be born again!

What a Sunday!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Church Unity

Last night I went to the Prayer for Bradford Easter Celebration at the Cathedral. It had all the hallmarks of churches together, PA that squealed right in the middle of an intimate worship time, songs that you haven’t sung for ten years, charismatics readjusting to Anglican liturgy. It was great! The messiness of coming together like that is just nothing compared to the joy of the church being one church. Putting aside our own organisation of church and just being one, united by what unites us and ignoring what makes us different, most of which is surface anyway.
I always used to think that the church that I was in was “the best”, whichever church I happened to be in must be the best, it’s a trap many Christians fall into. I’ve realised now, it was simply the best church “for me.” When we try and rank churches, when we try and decide which is the best, I believe we’re falling so far short of where God would want us to be. I used to call big churches great, and small churches crap. I have repented many times of that attitude, how worldly is that? “Big is beautiful, small is rubbish” is not a Kingdom value, it’s the values of corporate America that whilst they can be helpful surely cannot be the measurement we use for the Kingdom, it’s much more empire language than Kingdom language.
I’m glad that God has taught me about this stuff. Especially now I’m a leader of a growing church, that will no doubt get big. For me bigger does not mean better, bigger does not mean more successful. All I want is effectiveness, help people love God more and help people love people more so that the poor are helped and disciples (new and old) are made for God’s glory.
It is not our place to look down on any part of the body of Christ, to talk it down or put it down. Our job is to build up the body and going to a churches together service and enjoying the fun and games of worshipping together is all part of it.