Monday, April 29, 2013

Luther was one bad MoFo

You didn't want to get on the wrong side of Martin Luther...

Sunday, April 28, 2013

FULLTILT your prayers

So... How do you pray?
What do you actually do?

When posed with that question the answer I received and now pass on is the following...

F - Focus. Take time out. Remove distractions.

U - Up. You aren't trying to reach Nirvana, but focus on God. His nature. His promises.

L - Lay it on the Line. When you do the previous point, especially if you touch on the holiness of God, then you should be lead to see the difference between us and a perfect God. We should come before God in honest confession, mindful of the next part...

L- Lap it up! When someone comes before God in repentance, He is merciful and will forgive us. This is an awesome thing which we should revel in!

T - Thanks. We should be grateful for not only what God has just done, but reflect on all the blessings He bestows on us.

I - I want/need/like. Having showed gratitude for both large and small , we can now ask God for what we want/need. BUT, we must be mindful that God is not a cosmic genie, for if a request will not be for our good or for the advancement of God's Kingdom, then a wise God will say no. If it'll be harmful then a good God won't let you win the lottery.

L - Listen. Prayer is not a one way conversation. Whilst we may not see a burning bush, we should take time for God is direct us to places in scripture or formulate ideas.

T - Travel. Prayer shouldn't terminate at Amen. It should be a way of life.

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Without fail, whenever someone saw the program for the leader's weekend just passed they asked the same question... What does TAWG stand for?

Time Alone With God.

For 30 minutes each morning the leaders were given some time out for just them and God.

One of the great things about weekends away is that you get more space than usual.

But I know, if you're not used to it, then 30 minutes can seem a little daunting. What do you do for half an hour?

On Sunday I walked the leaders through the answer I use when asked what people should do when praying (which I'll outline in my next post).

Additionally, TAWG is useful because it gives the introverts some time out from everyone else...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The elder statesman conversation

Walk me through what you were thinking...
Is that action really wise???
Trust me, as one who's gone through it/see it before...

Churches should be a place where conversations begin with the above statements.

Ideally, they will occur between an older and a younger Christian.

And you can tell when these significant conversations are absent as believers find themselves in predicaments which, when looking back, they recognize could have avoided with a dose of solid advice.

It is the role, particularly of older guys (notice I didn't say the minister!), to develop the culture and cultivate the relationships where this valuable advice can be given and heeded.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The game which changes the attitude

I just got back from a weekend away with the youth group leaders at my new church to plan the rest of the year and do some leadership development (looking at the LEEP and SHAPE ideas and how they fit into our context).

But when my leaders arrived at the location of the weekend they were... underwhelmed.

The hot water was... temperamental.
Some of the mattresses were... less than ideal.
The upstairs windows were... uncooperative.

But one game changed it all.

No matter if it's love-at-first-sight or you're initial unimpressed by a site, two rounds of this game will make you swoon over any location.

The love potion for any location? Hide and seek. In pitch black. Over the entire site.

Especially with adults.

Because adults are crafty.
Adults are sneaky.
Adults are prepared to squeeze into a cramp-inducing space.
Adults get a sick satisfaction from hearing someone you know stumble around in the dark, just feet away from your location, totally unaware.
And scaring people in the dark is awesome.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The vital question which makes church notices work

I've written about church notices announced during the service in the past (you can check it out here). To sum up, I've said that they should be short and involve stories.

Over the last few weeks my thinking has had an important development.

Notices should still be punchy a they should definitely involve stories by people who are personally involved with the notice.

But my appreciation for notices has increased since I now include a vital question.

A question which communicates the whole purpose of, not just notice announcing, but, arguably, church gatherings.

The question is... Where have you encountered God lately?

The reason anything should be announced in church is because we expect God to be at work within the things which are promoted.

And church should be a place where those in the congregation are comfortable enough and encouraged to share what God has been doing in their world, no matter if it is world-altering or something more mundane.

The icing on the cake?
I'd actually WANT to hear these notices and they might BE INTERESTING!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Where should the shame go?

I'm still a virgin...
I've never been drunk...
I've never done drugs...

If a Christian shares the above facts about their life then I can understand the usual reactions of surprise or pity from a non-believer.

But how should fellow believers react?
Do they always admire them?

Unfortunately, when such revelations are thrust into the spotlight, it's not uncommon for there to be two negative reactions...

Shame and pressure.

Pressure for the one who has not, say got drunk, to drink up and shame that the person has, so far, "missed out."

I think these reactions are absolute crap.

The idea that a Christian would try and make another stumble is deplorable.
The concept that someone should be made to feel bad because they have done, and are doing, what THEY SHOULD BE DOING is absurdly stupid.

The few answers I can give for these reactions are either ignorance, callousness or shame.

I suspect it is the latter.

When a person sees someone else, again using the example of drunkenness, "getting things right" then is exposes where they are "getting things wrong."

If virgins and those who abstain from sex and drugs cause shame it should be for those who know better and screw up anyway.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A deserved or miraculous mark?

Today I saw a sign outside a school which wished good luck to year 12's having exams.

It reminded me of an annual debate I have when asked to pray for a student to receive "good" marks.

When it comes to exams I don't ask God to grant miracles.
I ask God to give students the mark they deserve*.

I do so...
First, because I think it's fair.
And, second, I think a deserved mark is a far greater life lesson for the student.

I think a better prayer is one which expands beyond the examination period.

Prayer for prolonged productive study.
Prayer for a healthy balance of school, work, rest and church.
Prayer for positive relationships within their homes and social circles.
Prayer for good management of stress and anxiety.
Prayer for an awareness of God's presence, no matter how well or otherwise they perform in exams.

Otherwise, what message would it send if a lazy student receives the same mark as a student who has worked really hard all year?

* Okay, maybe they can have a couple of extra marks...

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Everyone knows one...
Probably a few.

They are in every church...
Even yours.

EGP's: Extra Grace People.

There will be some people, who for you, will require an extra dose of grace to be around.

And that's okay.

In fact, it should be expected if your church has more than three people, especially those who aren't identical or less than perfect.

And I can assure you...
for some people...
You will be THAT person.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ministry NEEDS vs WANTS

I'd love to do xyz, that would be awesome!
Finally, that opportunity has appeared, now we can do xyz!
After working for it for a decade, I think we can finally make it happen.

There are loads of things churches WANT to do.

But a question which must never be forgotten is...
Does the community around you, or whomever you are trying too reach, NEED what you are so excited about?

It would be a shame for churches to invest time and effort just for a new venture to flop because it met an unwanted need.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Beyond the empty tomb

I dressed like the Easter Bunny...
I broke Easter eggs over my head...
I spoke all about the empty tomb...
And I momumentually missed the point.

Easter is not about the empty tomb.
It's not about a vacant grave.

Easter is about Jesus being alive.

This makes all the difference.
Not just an empty cave.