Books I have read: Passion: The Bright Light Of Glory by Louie Giglio

Passion book

The Passion movement, led by Louie Giglio, was designed for 18-25 year olds who want to follow Jesus and share their faith with others, and based on Isaiah 26:8 which says, “Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we wait eagerly for You, for Your name and Your renown are the desire of our souls.”.  Passion: The Bright Light of Glory is a compilation of messages from many who have spoke at the conference such as John Piper, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Judah Smith, to name a few.

The book starts with an introduction by Louie Giglio on how the Passion conferences came into existence and what the journey has been over the last few years.  Following this each chapter is a different message from one of the above speakers – all with very different themes and styles – some obviously clicked much better for me than others whereas other people might find that different chapters connect for them.

The theme that kept coming up was the concept of life changing encounters with Jesus, and the need to share that with others.  Beth Moore summed it up well:

You have been set on this earth, at this hour, and in this generation to bring fame to the Lord Jesus Christ in your sphere of influence.

The book was thought provoking and full of truth I needed to hear. I encourage anyone to read this book.

Archbishop John Sentamu criticises UK food poverty

John Sentamu

Archbishop John Sentamu in a speech at General Synod has called for “more equitable, more caring world” and questioned the effects of government’s welfare reforms:

In a long and often angry address to the Church of England general synod on Tuesday, John Sentamu said static salaries and rising prices had left nine million people living below the breadline at a time when the chief executives of the UK’s 100 biggest companies were earning on average £4.3m – 160 times the average national wage.

Sentamu, who chairs the Living Wage Commission, said politicians needed to stop referring to “hard-working” families and recognise that they were instead “hard-pressed” families struggling to survive despite their best efforts.

“Once upon a time you couldn’t really be living in poverty if you had a regular income,” he said. “You could find yourself on a low income, yes. But that is not longer so. You can be in work and still live in poverty.”

Reports of malnutrition and food poverty in Yorkshire “disgrace us all, leaving a dark stain on our consciences”, he said. “How can it be that last year more than 27,000 people were diagnosed as suffering from malnutrition in Leeds – not Lesotho, not Liberia, not Lusaka but Leeds?”

The effects of the government’s welfare reforms, Sentamu said, were “beginning to bite – with reductions in housing benefit for so-called under-occupation of social housing, the cap on benefits for workless householders and single parents, and the gradual replacement of the disability living allowance with a personal independence payment”.

“This is the new reality,” he said, “Food banks aren’t going to go away any time soon. Prices are rising more than three times faster than wages. This has been going on for 10 years now. And for people slipping into poverty, the reality is much harsher.”

If governments were powerless to do much more than “tinker” with the current economic trends, he added, the church would find itself doing even more.

Reflecting on Christianity’s long commitment to fighting poverty – from Saint Francis of Assisi to John Wesley, and from Gustavo Gutiérrez, the Peruvian priest and father of liberation theology, to the current pope – Sentamu said the Church of England had once again found itself compelled to speak up for the poor, and urged Anglicans to follow the example of the architects of the welfare state.

“They had a clear vision as to how things could be different,” he said. “In part, they were also tapping into the spirit of the immediate postwar years in which there was a great hunger to rebuild a more equitable, more caring world. It is that vision which we need to recapture today, but remoulded in a way which is realistic for the circumstances we face now.”

Poverty, the archbishop concluded, was “costly, wasteful and indeed very risky”. He said: “We in the church must make the argument that losing human potential at a time when we need all the capacity we can gather is hugely wasteful; that paying people below the level required for subsistence fractures the social contract and insurance, and that this is risky.”

Sermon: Walking in the footsteps: Herod & Simeon

Christmas slide 2

Here’s my all-age talk from our children’s nativity service.  We kicked off with this video by Dan Stevers:

In the Bible we see the contrast of two very different responses, to that of baby Jesus – that of Simeon and Herod.

 

Herod

Herod the Great ruled at Jesus’ birth – king from 40-4BCE. He wasn’t a particularly nice guy: he had killed his wife, his brother-in-law, his mother and some of his sons as he feared they would try to take power from him. Even more horrendous, he planned kill 3,000 people to make them mourn when he dies!

 

When he heard about Jesus he felt threatened, he possibly saw Jesus as the Messiah, the future King of the Jews. There are parallels with dictators such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Robert Mugabe – if people didn’t agree with him he killed them. In Bethlehem he killed all the boys under the age of 2 – given Bethlehem’s size it is estimated that he murdered 15-30 toddlers that day.

 

It is a historical fact that after a reign of some thirty-three or so years marked by violence and intrigue, Herod the Great died of cancer at Jericho. The child Jesus, however, escaped to Egypt and lived.

 

In every century there have been Herod’s who, recognising the Son of God as a threat, have sought to murder him in his cradle. There was Herod’s grandson, Herod Agrippa 1, who tried to persecute the early church. He killed James, the brother of John. He imprisoned Peter, intending to execute him also. But in the end he was eaten up with worms and died. Herod died; Jesus lived.

 

In the first three centuries a succession of ‘Herod’s’ sat on various world thrones, devising all sorts of schemes to kill off the church. Nero, for instance, ordered Christians to be killed. Yet in the end this ‘Herod’ died and Jesus lived.

 

And so the story has gone on. Adolf Hitler was in many ways a reincarnation of Herod. He threw many a faithful German Christian into his concentration camps. In the end ‘Herod’ died, but Jesus lives.

 

Not all Herod’s employ the crude and violent methods of Herod the Great. Some seek to smother Jesus by creating a climate of cynicism and ridicule, and in this way destroy the Christian church. We sometimes feel overpowered by the ‘Herod’s’ present within the media, who seek to create doubt and confusion within the minds of many faithful Christians.

 

But as we’ve seen time and time again, human beings can’t stop God’s plans: Jesus is still alive today.

 

Waiting for Christmas

Children have a hard time waiting for Christmas. Here are some actual letters that were written to Santa:

 

Dear Santa Claus,

When you come to my house there will be cookies for you. But if you are real hungry you can use our phone and order a pizza to go.

 

Dear Santa,

I want a Puppy. I want a playhouse. Thank you. I’ve been good most of the time. Sometimes I’m wild.

 

Dear Santa, (From a 4-year-old)

I’ll take anything because I haven’t been that good.

 

Christmas is often associated with waiting.

 

What Are You Waiting For?

Let me ask you some questions. What are you waiting for this Christmas? Are you longing for anything? What are you expecting to receive? Are you looking forward to anything special this Christmas?

 

In the Gospel of Luke, we find a man in the final acts of the Christmas drama who doesn’t appear in any nativity scenes and yet was critical to the first Christmas.

 

Simeon was waiting for something, actually someone. Luke uses a Greek word of anticipation that identifies him as waiting with expectation for the coming of the Messiah, or Savior. We’re introduced to Simeon in Luke 2:25. “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon Him.”

 

Things weren’t going real well for the nation of Israel. They hadn’t heard from God for many years and were under Roman rule. But verse 26 shows us that Simeon had good reason for his hope and anticipation: “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”

 

Simeon’s expectation focused on the comfort that Christ would bring. Among Jews of Simeon’s day one of the popular titles of Messiah was Comforter, they were longing for the Messiah to come and bring His comfort to them. It strikes me that the desire to be comforted is a universal human need. We all struggle with loneliness, emptiness, insecurity, even desperation. In fact, the Christmas season is one of the major crisis times of the year for depression and suicide.

 

The Holy Spirit prompted Simeon to go to the temple courts at just the right time on just the right day that Joseph and Mary were bringing their infant to the Temple. When Simeon looked at the baby Jesus, now about 6 weeks old, he knew that God’s promise had been kept. Here was Immanuel, “God With Us,” to make everything right and to eliminate rejection, fear, and loneliness.

 

Verse 28 of Luke 2 says that Simeon reached down and took Jesus out of Mary’s arms and began to praise God. Let me pause here to make a comment. Parents, how would you feel if some old man came up to you, took your baby in his arms and started singing out loud? I’m sure this was a bit unsettling for Joseph and Mary. But Simeon didn’t look all that dangerous. As he broke out into praise, he acknowledged that God had not only fulfilled the individual promise to him, but also the promises of the prophets to send the Anointed One to comfort both Jews and Gentiles.

 

Jesus Provides What We Need

Friends, when Jesus came, He provided the very things that Simeon and Anna were waiting for – God’s comfort and His forgiveness. Let me ask you a question. What are you waiting for this Christmas? Whatever it is, Jesus can give it to you.

 

Can any of you identify with Simeon this morning? Some of you are really hurting right now. You feel lonely, empty, afraid, and maxed out. Do you need some comfort? Some consoling? Do you need a fresh sense of God’s presence? If so, you can find what you’re looking for in Jesus. He came to console us right where we’re at.

 

Action Steps

There are three action steps from this passage that will help you experience God’s comfort this Christmas.

 

Become a Marveler

Become a marveler. When Joseph and Mary tried to process everything that was happening, verse 33 says that they marveled at what was said about Jesus. According to the dictionary, to become a marveler is to be filled with wonder, astonishment, and surprise.

 

Are you a marveler this Christmas? Or, are you too caught up in the busyness and stress of the season? Has Christmas become too predictable, too familiar? Have you heard the Christmas story so much that it no longer astonishes you? We hear just enough of the story each year to inoculate us against the real thing, so that we never really catch true Christmas fever.

 

Here’s an idea that may help you recapture the marvel of Christmas. Pick one of the Christmas characters and put yourself in their sandals. Imagine what it must have been like to witness the Christmas story first hand.

 

Become a Mover

Take a look at verse 27: “Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts.” Simeon was a mover, when the Holy Spirit prompted him he didn’t sit still. I wonder what would have happened if he had not responded? Actually, every one of the Christmas characters responded to the Spirit’s leading ­ with the exception of Herod.

 

Friends, when God prompts you to do something, then you need to do it. Don’t procrastinate when God prompts you to do something – you may miss out on a miracle this Christmas.

 

I’m struck by what Simeon told Mary in verse 34. It must have taken her breath away. “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be spoken against…” That’s not really a joyful Christmas greeting, is it? Simeon is not saying, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.” Rather, he pauses, clears his throat and tells her that Christmas will never be merry and the New Year will never be happy until people get moving and surrender their lives to Christ.

 

Here’s the truth. Christmas splits people into 2 camps. Since Jesus has entered the world, He has divided the human race. You can’t stay neutral about Jesus. You are either for Him or against Him. You’re moving closer to Him, or further away. You either have the Son or you don’t.

 

Become a Messenger

Interestingly, as we work at becoming marvelers, we can’t help but become movers. That leads us to the final action step from this passage: become a messenger. Notice verse 38 again: “…she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

 

Do you have family and friends who’ve been caught up in preparations for Christmas? Look at it this way maybe their anticipation and longings really represent an inner search for comfort and forgiveness those things that only the Messiah can provide. God wants each one of us to become messengers of the Christmas story.

 

Conclusion

Let me wrap this up. As you and I become marvelers, the wonder of Christmas will astonish us. Then, as we become movers, our needs for comfort and forgiveness will be met. And, as we take our role as messengers seriously, we’ll be in position to introduce others to the Christ of Christmas — so that they in turn can find what they have been waiting for.

 

Friends, in a nutshell, Christmas is a marvelous, moving, message! How can we not find what we’ve been looking for? And, how can we keep quiet about it? Once you have the Son, you have everything.

 

Whoever Takes the Son Illustration

Many years ago, there was a very wealthy man who shared a passion for art collecting with his son. They had priceless works by Picasso and Van Gogh adorning the walls of their family estate.

 

As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram. His son had died. Distraught and lonely, the old man faced the upcoming Christmas holidays with anguish and sadness. The joy of the season had vanished with the death of his son.

 

On Christmas morning, a knock on the door awakened the depressed old man. As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. As he opened the door he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hands who said, “I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you.”

 

The soldier mentioned that he was an artist and then gave the old man the package. The paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man’s son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man’s face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the man hung the portrait over the fireplace, pushing aside millions of dollars worth of art. His task completed, the old man sat in his chair and spent Christmas gazing at the gift he had been given.

 

The painting of his son soon became his most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces of art for which museums around the world clamored.

 

The following spring, the old man died. The art world waited with anticipation for the upcoming auction. According to the will of the old man, all the art works would be auctioned on Christmas Day, the day he had received the greatest gift.

 

The day soon arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled that day.

 

The auction began with a painting that was not on anyone’s museum list. It was the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid, but the room was silent. “Who will open the bidding with $100?” No one spoke. Finally someone said, “Who cares about that painting. It’s just a picture of his son. Let’s move on to the good stuff.”

 

The auctioneer responded, “No, we have to sell this one first. Now, who will take the son?” Finally, a neighbor of the old man offered $10 dollars. “That’s all I have. I knew the boy, so I’d like to have it.”

 

The auctioneer said, “Going once, going twice…gone.” The gavel fell.

 

Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, “Now we can bid on the real treasures!”

 

The auctioneer looked at the room filled with people and announced that the auction was over. Everyone was stunned. Someone spoke up and said, “What do you mean, it’s over? We didn’t come here for a painting of someone’s son. There are millions of dollars worth of art here! What’s going on?”

 

The auctioneer replied, “It’s very simple. According to the will of the Father, whoever takes the son…gets it all.”

 

Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? The message is the same this Christmas. Because of the Father’s love…whoever takes the Son gets it all.

 

Will you take Him this Christmas?

You’re invited to a birthday party this week. It’s the birthday of Jesus. It’s His party ­ but He wants to give you a present. He wants to give you the gift of Himself. Will you take Him?

Child sexual exploitation report – “It couldn’t happen here, could it?”

The sexual exploitation of children - it couldn't happen here, could it

The government has recently produced a report into child sexual exploitation entitled “It couldn’t happen here, could it?“.

The report evaluates the effectiveness of how local authorities’ have responded to the challenge of child sexual exploitation.  The report draws on evidence from inspection and case examination in eight local authorities and from the views of children and young people, parents, carers, practitioners and managers.  A number of other inspection reports of children’s homes and children’s services and reviews of Local Safeguarding Children Boards contributed to the findings.

If you’re a children’s or youth worker this is essential reading so go and download the report here.

pMAP Training – Diocese of Winchester

Diocese of Winchester

Here’s my notes from the Diocese of Winchester pMAP training session at St. Andrew’s Church.  For further information check out the pMAP website.

Phil Dykes

pMAPs is all about: Review – Plan – Act

 

God has been there before you – God was there before you turned up. We join something that God is already at work in. What is God already actively engage in in your Parish? Create a physical map of your area.

 

Called to triple listening

  • Listening to God
  • Listening to one another
  • Listening to our community

 

Paul Moore

Luke 24:13-19

 

Deliberately leaving his disciples on the journey, and Jesus there with them on the journey although they didn’t recognise that immediately. Let us bring to the Lord all the things that confuse us and make us weary.

 

Church in Goatham, where he first heard the stories of the gospel from Grace who was the organist and Sunday school teacher. She probably had no training but she talked about her faith and lived out her faith. On Christmas Day in 1984 God brought to him that there were thousands of people who weren’t there because they didn’t know, they didn’t know the Good News of the birth of Christ. That was the moment when he realised God was calling him to ordained ministry – to help churches share the good news. Very exciting now to be doing that, helping the Diocese of Winchester to live the mission of Jesus.

 

Coming into the diocese it’s been exciting to see the exciting conversations through the dMAPs over the last year. Over the next stage hope the pMAP process will be another energising process, not something for us to do, but something that will excite us and help us reach God’s mission. Not a chore but a spiritual exercise, seeking spiritual renewal and growing in faith. We live in challenging times but we turn to the Lord. Jesus said repent and believe in the good news. Turn back to God and trust in what He is doing. Let’s do that through this process. We can commit ourselves to God’s agenda not our agenda. Asking for the Holy Spirit to empower us to do His work. MAPs can be a focus for our prayer and priorities.

 

The trellis is a helpful analogy. The trellis is a good piece of handiwork but it’s not for admiring but for something to enable growth. We want the pMAP to enable fruitful growth. The trellis can help us to concentrate our time, efforts and resources on the two or three things God wants us to do now, and we can leave the other things.

 

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and lean not on your own understanding;

6

in all your ways submit to him,

and he will make your paths straight

 

  • Prayer – prayer is the priority, use the booklet resource to help you to acknowledge all his ways.
  • Humility – don’t rely on your own insight, rely on God to help you understand
  • Trust – trust in the Lord – we live in challenging times but trust God is doing good things. We face diminishing congregations, increased costs – the early church had struggles but they leant on God and see what He did.

 

God will help us to map the way ahead.

 

Pete Maidment

The Lent Course for 2015 is going to lean into St. Benedict and Benedictine Spirituality. One of the things that has excited us is to stop and listen – to listen to God; to listen to each other in the faith community – a paraphrase of one of his quotes would be: “listen to the youngest member of the community as it is from there the answer to the problem will come”. We’re not announcing a clever idea of mission, prayer, listening – we’re reminding ourselves of these key areas.

 

Lent will be a great time to listen to one another and to explore where you are with living the mission of Jesus. How does it make you feel?

 

Listening to the community – many churches are doing astounding jobs of engaging their community, but lots of other churches struggle with the outside the church work. We want to encourage you and help you to listen to your communities.

 

Phil Dykes

Review, Plan, Act. Once we’ve reviewed we plan, how do we do that? We come up with things we think God might be saying.

 

  • The Landscape: Hampshire: What are the challenges we face, what are the plans that the local councils have to change the landscape physically and geographically but also spiritually. Our Diocesan response is the 4 Strategic Priorities – remember to read the full description as there is so much more in them.
  • The Field: Each Deanery has created boundaries in response to the 4SPs. All 13 Deaneries have produced a dMAP defining the size and look of the field.
  • The Allotment: It is for you and your community to decide where you are going to work, you might hug up to one of the strategic priorities, or you are in a corner as you are locked into two strategic priorities. The idea is what is it that God wants you to cultivate in the Deanery plan.

 

Andy Saunders

  • Specific: Specific things to do with the children on a Saturday morning whilst also managing the food shopping.
  • Measurable: have a budget to spend on the food when doing the shopping; everything ends up in the right place at the right time.
  • Attainable: don’t look at the parish next door, look at your parish. Have I got enough money in the bank, is there enough petrol in the car.
  • Relevant: yes if you want to eat for the next week! Are the plans relevant for your Parish.
  • Time Based: at 8.15am I’m off and by 12:45pm I’m back home with the girls.

 

Smart maybe what you are already but sometimes it is helpful to understand what you are already doing. It maybe worth buying everone a pack of smarties to suck in the meeting.

 

Resources

pMAP Guide for all of your Parish

Preparing to Act – Advent prayer and scripture resources

PCC pMAP Guide

You will have a companion to join with you on the journey

Church Growth seminars

 

Phil Dykes

The pMAP is a live document:

  • A standing item on the PCC agenda
  • Reported on at the APCM
  • When the Bishop’s Staff Team come and ask how are you doing you can ask them to help you with it

 

We have a vocation to be a human being, to be a disciple but we bring different vocations, gifts, experiences and insights. Surely each church community has a vocation that is different – for such a time as this if you read the book of Esther. Why has God called you together for that unique moment? So don’t look over the fence, don’t try to be someone else because you’re not. You might not be able to do something that others do and you have done if you’re able to do what God is asking you to do now.

 

Workshops

  • Engaging with your community
  • Engaging with the environment
  • Finance for mission
  • Engaging with the missing generations

 

Engaging with the missing generations – Andy Saunders & Pete Maidment

  1. Which are the missing generations in your faith community?
  2. In your community where do the missing generations gather?
  3. What do the missing generations in your community want from church?
  4. How does your current provision cater for the missing generations, and where are the gaps?
  5. How is your faith community providing for different age groups?
  6. If resources were no issue what one thing would you like to do for the missing generations in your context?
  7. What is influencing your reflection (reading/internet/good practice examples) in reaching the missing generation?
  8. How might further training/resourcing help you fulfil the vision of reaching the missing generation?
  9. What action point(s) will you take away from this session?
  10. What are your questions?

 

Phil Dykes – Key Questions

  1. What do you do if you already have a plan? Talk to us, you might just want to refresh it, equally you might want to go through the whole process.
  2. Is it just a management exercise? Of course not, Jesus was intentional, he had a plan and stuck to it even when people wanted him to heal everyone.
  3. Is it making more work? But it takes time to cultivate a garden.
  4. Is the timing flexible? Yes do it as quickly as you like
  5. How can we use this to meet a once in a generation opportunity? Pray – it’s a critical time for the church, and this is a chance to do something significant for God.

New Forest Nightstop

New Forest Nightstop

I received this recent mailing about New Forest Nightstop:

New Forest Nightstop is the only provider of emergency accommodation in the New Forest for young people age 16-24, who find themselves suffering homelessness and this is all done through the homes of trained and approved volunteers.  There is absolutely no other emergency provision; hostels or shelters, in the New Forest.  The first thing people usually say to me is ‘Are there really people homeless in the New Forest?’  Unfortunately, this is a reality that people are very much unaware of.  The forest is mainly an affluent area with a very rural spread.  This means that homelessness, as people usually understand it, goes very much unnoticed.  The young people we help are not the street-hardened rough sleepers people typically think of in regards to homelessness but everyday teenagers, suffering a crisis, in need of help and protection.

Through our team of 26 volunteers Nightstop provides free emergency overnight accommodation, meals, laundry, baths, travel costs, toiletries, start-up furniture, food parcel referrals, start-up home energy costs, practical support with benefit claims, housing forms and the progression of their housing case through housing panels, with a multi-agency approach to the best outcomes with the means we have.  But Nightstop hosts offers much more than this to a young person; a listening ear, a sense of belonging and trust, a future, protection from rape, drugs, abuse, increased employability, offering security to not only the young person but their education; 69% of young people who stayed in the last year were in education, training or employment.

New Forest Nightstop has just entered its 12th year and in that time we have provided over 2000 nights of safety to vulnerable young people from our local communities.  Our aim is to save them from reaching the streets and becoming victims there.  We are hard at work trying to bring an awareness of Nightstop and the tragedies it prevents to the communities around us.

But the reality is that, at the moment, we do not have enough hosts, particularly in the Hythe and Dibden area, for the number of young people needing help.

Please follow the link below to visit our website for a real insight into our work and activities.  You can read stories from the young people that have been supported by Nightstop, experiences of our volunteers and even watch our short film about homelessness in the New Forest.

I hope you have found this of interest and I look forward to hearing from you if you feel you can help us in any way.

Catriona Duncan
Nightstop Support Worker
Community First New Forest
Tel: 01425 478391

Email: Nightstopsupport@cfnf.org.uk

Web: www.newforestnightstop.org.uk

Goalkeeper has a night to forget in the FA Cup

York City goalkeeper Michael Ingham is left red-faced after his decision to go upfield for an attacking corner backfires.

Ingham made the foray forward as York looked for a last-gasp equaliser in their FA Cup first-round replay at AFC Wimbledon.

But the Dons won possession, leaving striker Matt Tubbs to put the ball into an empty net for his second of the night and a 3-1 victory for the home side.

Check out the video from 57 seconds onwards:

YC14 Seminar: Helping yourself to help your youth

rhythm-speed-1024x535

m4s0n501

The seminar was led by Helen Godwin and myself – you can download the powerpoint here.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Jesus calls/commands us to live freely and lightly and yet many of us don’t.  It can feel impossible, but Jesus asked us to do this so it must be possible.

When we are exhausted we long for someone to take charge – that is what Jesus is doing here ‘Come!’

Ministry – as a full-timer or a volunteer – doesn’t fit with the 21st century concept of work-life balance.  Instead the more helpful concept is that of rhythm and speed.

It is impossible to manage ministry in the same way each day, or even week.  For example Christmas will always be a busy period in ministry.  In a work-life balance model we fail if we are involved in all that goes on in church at Christmas.  Yet rhythm says this is okay, with rest and holiday the week after.

The old phrase is look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.  We need to look for rhythm in our days, weeks, months, and beyond.

We need to obey and take a Sabbath rest!

Often a deeper root being exposed here – we are works based and not grace based.

Feel compelled, guilty, fear what others think, not pulling my weight

But we are called to say ‘my yoke is easy and my burden is light’, can we say that?

Would we feel guilty if we did?

Is Sabbath rest a norm for us, preventing us from getting weary and heavy ladened? 

  • Singles – you’ve not no family to take up your time! Really!!!  Do your family and friends feel you have a good boundaries?
  • Married – does your partner not only know but see/experience them being more important than church?
  • Kids – are your kids fighting with the church for your attention? Are they seeing your faith in action in your personal life and not just your work/volunteering?

Or are we simply hiding – Is work an escapism from your life/all of these – babysit my kids!!

We are called to love God – do we only pray and read his word for the sake of a preach?

Love our neighbour – is that youth outreach based.

Love ourselves – do we even attempt this one?

Watchman Nee – “Adam began his life with the sabbath; for God works before he rests, while man must first enter God’s rest, and then alone can he work.”

Eph 2 v6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. …8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

“For Christianity begins not with a big DO, but with a big DONE”.  – we are invited to enjoy it, not try and attain it.

Priorities – The picture of putting the big stones in first – God, Family & Friends, church.  Being obedient to what he asks – so we need to take time to listen.

Are our children/youth growing up – whirl wind of activity – doing instead of being is the signal we send. Resent church.

Be kind to ourselves and others on our teams. Demonstrates Grace and that we trust God.

If self care is seen as another task on a list to be ticked off then it may well not be the genuine care that we need.  Chpt 12 – Well watered tree.  Ian Hoskins.  Youth Ministry edited by Sally Nash.  2011

There is a tension between productivity and faithfulness.  As Henri Nouwen points out – “Productivity is an attempt to create life” but “we are called to deliver lasting fruit.”  The issue centres on who is in control and how much intimacy is there – it’s a focus on the relationship not what comes out of it.

As Oswald Chambers said: “The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship.  That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.”

Romans 12:1-2 reminds us that we can’t help but be shaped by the world.

Scarcity mentality: there isn’t enough time to do everything I need to do.    Key Q: How do I get all this done?

  • Importance of image: concern with my audience (e.g. facebook); worried what people think; personal ‘brand’; hide the real you.  Key Q: How do I look to others?
  • Workplace of culture: productivity focus; concern with measurement and success; congregation satisfcation and market share; comparison with others leads to working harder.  Key Q: How do I justify my life?  Have I done enough?
  • Work-life balance: You can have it all; Fear Of Missing Out; fill every minute; Key Q: How do I do it all
  • Orphan mentality: I’m on my own; it’s all down to me; self-reliance; unable to truth God or others.  Key Q: How do I trust?
  • Fear: Of vulnerability; of failure; of rejection; of not belonging.  Key Q: How do I not … ?

And yet God doesn’t need me to do anything but I receive the privilege of joining in His mission with Him.

Three areas of well-being we want to focus on:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Spiritual

Physical well-being:

  • Take a Sabbath
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Healthy eating

Stress is “the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed upon them” according to the Health & Safety Executive.  From a Christian perspective stress is forgetting who God is, who we are, and that there is an enemy.

The spring is designed to extend, take pressure, release and return to the starting point.

  • Change: Births, marriage, deaths, moving house, changing jobs etc.
  • Demands and expectations of others: Expectations which are often not written down.  It is key to bring them out into the open: “I am here to serve you but you are not my master.”
  • Self-expectation: This multiples the 2 springs above it.  If you try to keep everyone happy then when high demands happen it is even harder.
  • Demotivation and resentment: Resent work that someone else should do; resentful that God hasn’t delivered certain things.  Sense of scarcity and ownership.
  • Attack: As J.B. Phillips said “Enemy loves to squeeze us into the model of the world.”

Strengthen the spring: go back to the physical well-being: sleep, exercise, health diet, good spiritual habits.

Develop your support network: who prays for you on an ongoing basis?  Family and friends; mentor; accountability groups; spiritual direction etc.  To receive support it requires us to be humble.  Sometimes our role focuses on supporting others so much that we struggle to receive help.

Understand and reduce the weights: understand the dynamic between the weights and recognise the role of the ‘conformed mind’.  Reduce the impact of the weights.

We ignore the fact that we are emotional beings to our peril.  We need to teach our youth and especially our lads that emotions are part of us, and if suppressed cause untold damage.

Learning to express emotions is a healthy and normal part of our development.

Where do you worship and feed?  Are you only reading the Bible to prepare for youth sessions; praying arrow prayers to God because you haven’t had time to prepare?

It is important that all of us step back and worship God, and receive from Him.  This can be a challenge e.g. older youth doing children’s work and never going to church.

A young person stepped back from leading worship because she was no longer worshiping – a chore and needs to connect again – such guts.

Do we take time out to BE and not do?

What works for you?