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I have just returned from a weeks holiday in Samos, a Greek island. Warm, sunny, relaxing and an interesting variety of craft out on the water.

As i watched, I reflected that the variety of boats speak about the different approaches to the Christian life.

There was the yacht, with its sail up and a sailor experienced at catching the wind.

There was the yacht but with its sail down and the outboard motor moving the craft. The sailor had chosen to go fast but not to use the wind.

There was a Hobie Catamaran with an instructor with the sailor, teaching them

how to catch the wind.sailing

There was the motorboat, choosing speed over stability, rushing over the waves and ignoring the wind.

There was the windsurfer, who gets on, balances, catches the wind, goes fast then falls off. They get back on and the whole process is repeated and repeated and repeated until they are too tired to continue.

And lastly. there were the 2 kayaks: one with one person paddling, going at their own pace, in control of speed and direction and working hard, but not using the wind. The other had 2 people aboard, sometimes working together inn a rhythmn and achieving speed and distance, but sometimes, paddling in an un-co-ordinated way and ending up going round in circles.

As I watched and took photos, I asked God which one was nearer my journey as a Christan.

Which one are you?

Organised Spontaneity

Last Sunday, the service at my church was a little different. The pastor was preaching at another church and the church member due to preach had major family issues. It was decided last week in the light of this, that instead of a sermon, anyone in the church could bring a scripture, a message, a prayer or a story of what God has done this week.

The results was a great blessing. As usual, the Holy Spirit wove it all together, as if each person was playing a different instrument yet producing a symphony of worship. 2 people brought sermonettes, one asked a deep question which was answered, several brought verses of scripture and one a poignant prayer.

God was honoured and we were blessed. People who spoke never usually get the opportunity to do so. THIS IS CHURCH according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 v26:

“Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize what I am saying. When you meet, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in an unknown language, while another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must be useful to all and build them up in the Lord.” NLT

Why not try this in your church? Be prepared to be surprised and blessed!

Dancing with God

A while ago, a friend sent me this, mainly because I am a Christian and
I love my dancing classes. It puts the two together beautifully. I
have worked this into a message for 2 churches recently, using
Ephesians 1 as a starting point. Its a great challenge. Let it move
you as you read it and you won't look at the word 'Guidance' again
without thinking about dancing with God. 
When I meditated on the word Guidance 
I kept seeing 'dance' at the end of the word. 
I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot
like dancing. 

When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.
The movement doesn't flow with the music, 
and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. 
When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, 
both bodies begin to flow with the music.

One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back 
or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. 
It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully. 
The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person 
nd gentle guidance and skill from the other. 
My eyes drew back to the word Guidance. 
When I saw 'G: I thought of God, followed by 'u' and 'i'. 
'God, 'u' and 'i' dance' 
God, you, and I dance. 
As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. 
Once again, I became willing to let God lead. 

My prayer for you today is that God's blessings and mercies be upon you on this day and everyday. 
May you abide in God as God abides in you. 
Dance together with God, trusting God to lead and to guide you through each season of your life. 

Author: anonymous 


									

Come to the Well

A few years ago, I discovered a Christian band called ‘Casting Crowns’. I now have 6 of their albums. Their music is great, the lyrics are Bible based but challenge all aspects of life and attitude. They sing it straight from the shoulder and I love that.

Check out their website www.castingcrowns.com

One of the songs I love is called ‘Come to the well’

I have what you need, but you keep on searching. I’ve done all the work but you keep on working

When you’re running on empty and you can’t find the remedy,

Just come to the well.

You can spend your whole life chasing what’s missing But that empty inside, it just ain’t gonna listen

When nothing can satisfy and the world leaves you high and dry.

Just come to the well.

And all who thirst will thirst no more, And all who search will find what their souls long for.

The world will try but it can never fill

So leave it all behind and come to the well.

So bring me your heart no matter how broken, Just come as you are when your last prayer is spoken

Just rest in your arms a while, you’ll feel a change my child

When you come to the well.

And all who thirst will thirst no more, And all who search will find what their souls long for.

The world will try but it can never fill

So leave it all behind and come to the well.

And now that you’re full of love beyond measure, Your joy’s gonna flow like a stream in the desert

Soon all the world will see living water is found in me

‘Cause you’ve come to the well.

Leave it all behind, leave it all behind

Your pursuit of perfection, Your fear of rejection, Your temporary pleasures, All your earthly treasurers

Dried up empty religion, Rusty chains of addiction, All the guilt that weighs you down

Just leave it all behind and come to the well.

Casting Crowns Copyright 2011 Sony/ATV

The comment on the album sleeve throws a different light on a familiar passage from John 4.

“The woman at the well thought she was standing by a well and talking to a man. In reality she was standing by a hole in the ground and she was talking to the well. She thought she had already had her source but she was in fact dying of spiritual thirst. We often come to the Father with our well. We already have our own idea of what will fill us. Then we ask God to bless our ideas, our source, our well, but we soon realise that Jesus is not the blesser of our plans but the Author of life! He is our source. Any other well we attempt to draw from, is just a hole in the ground”.

New Wine

I have just returned from a week at New Wine, week 2, in Somerset. This was a gathering of about 11,000 camping Christians, organised by the Church of England but all denominations were welcome.

It was wonderful to get away from the routine and spend the week in God’s presence. Worship, seminars, sharing food and living in community were all good for my heart. Coming from a small church, it was so good just to be a part of the huge numbers there, a glimpse of heaven and as we all worshipped many came to faith and many were healed and set free.

It was good, actually essential, to spend time totally focussing, maybe having to re-focus on God and His word and plan for me. Many seeds have been planted in my life this week, some for now, some for later.

Expecting to encounter God is vital and being prepared to step out into His next move for us. The Christian life should be lived as an adventure and never be boring. Faith is spelt R-I-S-K.

SO…

step out at His call, out of our comfort zones and see His kingdom come.

Think on verse 2 from Mark 2

And no-one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”

For more info and to book to go next year, see www,new-wine.org

When we have given our lives over to Jesus, we become ambassadors for Him wherever we go. We carry the presence of God with us at all times and impact and influence many lives everyday.

It is essential to join a local church and belong to a group of God’s people to work out in practice what being a Godly family is all about.

The problem is, we only meet together for only 5-10 hours a week (maybe less) as gathered church in services, meetings, events etc.

As there are 168 hours in the week and we sleep for 48 of those, this leaves 120 hours, 10 of which we are gathered church. This means we are scattered church for 110 hours each week. - scattered into our homes, schools, hospitals, offices and every other place we go. We are called to be salt and light.

We need to be equipped and strengthened in our gathered times, ready for impacting people for Jesus in the scattered times. Are you?

If not, what do you need and how can you encourage others?

Being a Christian isn’t just for Sundays…its 24/7

More info about being a whole life disciple on the LICC website www.licc.org.uk. The ‘Imagine’…Life on the Frontline’ course by Neil Hudson is great!This is a six-session DVD resource for small groups to inspire and equip Christians to make a difference on their Frontlines.

This creative and practical small group resource is a six-session DVD series for small groups seeking to help one another live fruitfully and faithfully for Christ in the daily places of life and work. Each session has a short film, discussion material, Bible reflections and stories illustrating how the principles have been worked out in real life. The sessions are:

  • Session 1: The Frontline Call – What is my Frontline and why does it matter?

  • Session 2: The Frontline Commission – What happens when life on our Frontline feels difficult?

  • Session 3: The Frontline Community – How do all our various church activities equip us for our lives when we are apart?

  • Session 4: The Frontline Concern – How do you know what to do on your Frontline?

  • Session 5: The Frontline Cry – How does our Frontline shape our prayers?

  • Session 6: The Frontline Commitment – How can we sustain our commitment to one another on the Frontline?

 

I find it fascinating that in the middle of lists and lists and lists of names recorded in 1 Chronicles, there is a short entry about a man called Jabez. It simply records that he prayed a prayer which God answered. We know almost nothing about him, as he appears ‘in between families’ with no apparent ties to anyone. It reads:

 

1 Chronicles 4 v 9-10

Jabez was more honourable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

 

My homegroup recently spent time meditating on this verse, asking God to show us what this meant to us individually and/or us as a church.

The phrase ‘enlarge my territory’ jumped out. This could be physical, but more likely to mean either enlarge our influence for God or broaden our understanding of who God is and what is possible in us, locally, nationally or globally.

Interestingly. this came at a time when I had just started to write this blog for small churches, locally, nationally globally – I was encouraged! It was also around this time that I started to organise a meeting of national small church networkers. Again I was encouraged.

 

A small church can have a big influence in the local community and overseas. I know of churches who with only 20 or so people, have impact in Uganda, Sierra Leone and India. A little resource in the UK goes a long way overseas eg. The price of a daily newspaper will provide food for a street child.

 

Jabez is wanting God to ‘enlarge his territory’ but in a way which does not cause himself or others harm. He prayed for God’s blessing (we need to do that more) but also wanted God’s hand to be with him. Alone he could do nothing. It reminded me of verse 8 of Micah 6:

 

“He has shown you, O man, what is good;

And what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy,

And to walk humbly with your God? NKJV.

God answered Jabez’ prayer, as He answers ours.

The last question we asked in our homegroup that day was “What will I do with what God has said today?”

We always need to read scripture with a set of 3 questions in mind:

What? (what is happening, where & why)

So what? (what does this mean to me?)

Now what? (what will I do with what I have read? How do I apply it to my life?)

I encourage you to meditate on this scripture as we did and see what God has to say to you and your church.

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